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Ballmer Bails on Microsoft

Sarah Thomas
8/23/2013

Well, Microsoft's press conferences are about to get a lot more low-key. The company's bombastic leader Steve Ballmer has announced he'll be retiring within a year.

The question is, did he choose to leave, or was he shown the exit?

Ballmer took over the CEO post from Bill Gates in 2000, inheriting the thriving PC market leader, which now -- 13 years later -- is struggling to find relevancy in a world dominated by mobility and software. (See: Ballmer: 'I Don't Think Everybody Wants a Tablet'.)

While it's still relatively early for Windows 8, Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT)'s operating system that was supposed to bridge the world of mobile and computing has yet to make a dent in a market dominated by Android and iOS. Its partners, especially flagship partner Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), are all struggling to create this long-promised third ecosystem.

Against that backdrop, it's hard to tell whether Ballmer is really leaving willingly, as Microsoft suggests. In a letter to his employees, the CEO, known for his often-alarming enthusiasm, said he originally wanted to leave in the middle of Microsoft's "transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most," but the company now needs a CEO who's in it for the long run.

Microsoft will form a special committee to find Ballmer's successor, and he will step down once a new leader is chosen. AllThingsD has his full letter to employees here.

News of Ballmer's departure sent Microsoft's shares up 7 percent in early-morning trading. It should be noted that Ballmer still owns 333,252,990 shares of Microsoft, meaning that he made just over $10 billion at yesterday’s closing price of $32.39. I'm sure leaving the company he loves will be hard, but he does have a nice cushion to fall on.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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sam masud
sam masud
8/26/2013 | 1:40:33 PM
Re: Ballmer Bails
Why not? Then we could say a final goodbye to MS :-(
DanJones
DanJones
8/23/2013 | 2:07:08 PM
Re: What about the obvious?
Interesting choice, they really would need to PAY LARGE though.

 

Any ex-Apple executives that might fit the bill?
nherbw
nherbw
8/23/2013 | 1:53:55 PM
Developers! Developers! Developers!
@jopocop
@jopocop
8/23/2013 | 1:47:49 PM
Re: What about the obvious?
I wonder if Eric Schmidt is on the short list, because his tenure at Chairman of Google is really kind of being a dead end job, even though Google's future is very cutting edge with going for the sky in everything tech.  Eric has the distinction of the Apple Board years, his dubious association with Jobs, and then again, he innovated and figured out Android and Chrome many current day Google products.  MSFT would need to pay and arm and leg to get him.  Another advantage, Eric has a direct line into the WH and Obama.  
mendyk
mendyk
8/23/2013 | 1:10:33 PM
What about the obvious?
Sometimes, people retire because ... they are ready to retire. Or at least they think they're ready. Not everyone wants to be carried out feet first from the corner office, although sometimes it seems that way.
DanJones
DanJones
8/23/2013 | 1:10:10 PM
Re: Ballmer Bails
Yeah, it's hard to see who the replacement is:

 

Not Elop, surely?
@jopocop
@jopocop
8/23/2013 | 1:04:17 PM
Ballmer Bails
Went to the Jobs movie last night, and while watching what happened to Jobs given the boot at the old Apple, I was wondering to myself how much longer will Gates support Ballmer. Here we are, the next day, and it finally happened.  Today, all of the comics come out of the woodwork to make laughs, jokes, spoofs, etc, yet, although well deserved, the bigger issue is that MSFT is a DOW 30 component that is a troubled company with an unknown future at this point.  Many initiatives are failing or status quo.  The shift away from Windows to other OS is happening faster and faster.  Competitors everywhere, chipping away.  Past relationships are fading away, such as with HP and Dell and others. The next CEO has to be one heck of a brilliant and dynamic leader to reinvent the company for the next decade.  Too bad Marissa Mayer is already taken, but, that is the kind of person Microsoft will need to shake it up and make it a leader and not a follower.  
DanJones
DanJones
8/23/2013 | 12:40:49 PM
Re: BALLMY ARMY
Remind me next time you're in NYC and I'll tell you about the time I met Gene Simmonds.
Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
8/23/2013 | 12:37:53 PM
Re: BALLMY ARMY
Maybe that's his retirement plan...KISS seems to be one of the many comparisons for Ballmer:



Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas
8/23/2013 | 12:34:58 PM
Re: Ballmer Step Down
Good points, Ritch. Nokia wasn't an exclusive partner for Microsoft, but I wonder how much their tight relationship hurt in the eyes of other potential partners. I think it hurt Nokia most...Neither are thriving right now.
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