Steve Ballmer “most improved” CEO

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has been ranked the “most improved” CEO of 2012 – but his popularity ranking is still below 50%.

Steve Ballmer

According to company rating site Glassdoor, which polls a company’s employees, Ballmer’s approval rating jumped from 29% last year to 46% this year. However, that leaves him with the third lowest score in the list of 50 tech firms, topping only Netflix’s Reed Hastings with 42% and Xerox’s Ursula Burns with 21%.

In 2011, investors had been calling for Ballmer to step down, with many assuming now-departed Windows president Steven Sinfosky would eventually step into the role. Ballmer missed his full bonus again this year.

Ballmer’s score is much lower than other controversial CEOs, including HP’s Meg Whitman, who scored 74%, and new Yahoo leader Marissa Mayer, who was awarded 86%.

RIM’s Thorsten Heins scored 71% – a marked improvement from the 21% score earned by his predecessors, co-CEOs Jim Balsille and Mike Lazaridis.

The top rated tech CEOs were James Truchard of National Instruments, a US software and automation firm, and SAP’s co-CEOs Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann, who all received perfect scores. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg won a 99% score, suggesting the firm’s faltering IPO didn’t anger employees as much as it did investors.

Facebook also topped the best place to work across all sectors, up from third last year. Google was ranked sixth, and Apple 34th, while eBay and Amazon were ranked as the most improved tech firms. Microsoft didn’t make the top 50 list.

The ratings are based on employee surveys and reviews posted on the Glassdoor site. Click here for the full tech firm rankings from Glassdoor.

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