Microsoft today announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor. In the meantime, Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company.
In Ballmer’s letter to employees, he states;
There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.
Steven Ballmer took over as chief executive of Microsoft in 2000, from its co-founder, Bill Gates.
The NY Times reports Ballmer has faced regular calls for his ouster from investors and analysts because of the company’s missteps, but Microsoft said Friday the decision to leave the company was entirely Mr. Ballmer’s.
Critics say the company failed to capitalize on the rise of mobile devices and Internet search. All Things D says Ballmer will be judged harshly on market cap.
On the last day of 1999, the day before he took over as CEO, Microsoft’s market capitalization was $600 billion. On the day before he announced his intention to retire, it was less than $270 billion.
Supporters say he has shown an ability to keep a company of such size and ambition intact and growing. The Xbox has given the company a lead position in the battle for the connected living room, while Microsoft’s data-center software division had sales of $17.1 billion last year. Microsoft’s cloud computing services—the broadest in the industry—now include an online version of Office. The company bought Skype and is incorporating into its products, successfully launched Windows 8, in 2012 and teamed with Nokia on Windows Phone 8.
Microsoft’s Touchscreen Windows 8 is also arguably better positioned for tablets and touchscreen laptops than arch rival Apple which lags in touchscreen laptops.
Mary Jo Foley asked Steve Ballmer about his biggest regrets, his thinking on what’s next and more.