Ballmer Says Move Is in "Best Interests of Company I Love"

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT  ) CEO Steve Ballmer will retire sometime within the next 12 months, the company announced today. Shares shot up 8% in morning trading following the news and were up more than 6.5% as of this writing.

Ballmer will stay on until a successor is chosen, the company said, to "lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company ..."

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer wrote in an internal email to Microsoft employees. "We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."

Microsoft's board of directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process of choosing the company's next CEO. That committee will include Microsoft's founder and chairman, Bill Gates.

"We're fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties," Gates said in the company's statement.

Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 as the company's first business manager, five years after the company was founded. He succeeded Gates as CEO in 2000. His previous positions with the company included vice president of sales and support, senior vice president of systems software, and vice president of marketing.

Ballmer met Gates in 1973 while they were living down a dormitory hall from each other at Harvard University.

"This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most," the 57-year old Ballmer wrote.

It's been less than two months since Microsoft announced a sweeping reorganization of its business in an attempt to reignite competition with faster-moving rivals such as Apple and Google.

Response to the newest version of Microsoft's flagship Windows operating system has been lukewarm. And Microsoft, along with other companies that thrived in the era of personal computers, are scrambling to transform their businesses as people come to rely more and more on smartphones and tablets.

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2013, at 11:14 AM, marv08 wrote:

    Well, he certainly did not have that in mind when he announced the reorganisation. Having a leaving CEO restructure a company is absurd.

    Between all these write-downs, bribe investigations and completely avoidable EU fines accompanied by an industry-leading loss of relevance and market share on computing devices at large (MS went from being on 93% of computing devices to less than 25% today)... maybe the board did finally wake up and decided that this lost decade has to end.

    The stock is up 6%+ for a reason. Every future prediction Ballmer made was wrong; every single one of them. He was the guarantee that MS is no part of the future. Without them there is some hope again, as really nobody could be any worse.

    I can't believe it took so long.

  • Report this Comment On August 23, 2013, at 11:15 AM, NoWindows8LockIn wrote:

    It goes without saying that Ballmer was forced out. That last-hour reorganization that Ballmer instituted was an attempt to quell any reluctance within Microsoft by engineers/etc. who knew that the ship was heading for an ice-berg. Ballmer's actions are classically-representative of a turn-the-crank-milk-the-customer mentality. A leader light that cannot be successful indefinitely in running a company that whose survival depends upon innovation. Some CEO's will go as far as even to lie on their résumé, as Scott Thompson of Yahoo did, claiming that he had a degree in computer science, to distract observers from this problem - that appreciation and vision in technology is necessary.

    Now the hard work begins: getting rid of all the other cruft that has built up in Microsoft over the past 14 years. We all know who I am talking about: the incompetent engineers and mid-level managers who ran off real, hard-core technologist. Getting rid of these people will not be easy. If Microsoft fails, it will probably slowly become an HP or worse, a Novell.

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