In a digital era does youth trump experience?

  @FortuneMagazine December 5, 2013: 6:58 AM ET
COL23 spiegel ballmer

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel (left), and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer


At a creaky 57 years of age, is Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer -- who has created no wealth for shareholders in nearly 14 years at the top -- too old to run a tech company in the Snapchat era? Is Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who couldn't legally buy beer until 2011 -- and who reportedly turned down a $3 billion cash offer for his revenue-free company not long ago -- too young to make wise business decisions?

The youth vs. experience debate is eternal, but it's urgently relevant in today's business environment because we're at a rare turning point that seems to pit youngsters against oldsters. As the global economy becomes entirely digital, every company must form a view about who can manage and lead best in a new, fast-changing world. Remembering three facts will help.

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