The announcement came from two memos posted on the official Microsoft announcement page this morning, one written by PR and the other by Ballmer himself.
In his own release, the CEO explained that he felt the company needed a leader that would be there for the long haul through their transition into a more device focused business plan.
“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 focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction,” he said.
A successor has not yet been selected, and that is likely why he will take a full year to leave. During that time he will vet, select and groom the new CEO, a massive decision given Microsoft’s prominence as one of the leading tech companies in the world. So far, there is no solid speculation on who might take his place. Especially as we don’t know whether he will be choosing from within or outside of his current workforce.
I have to admit, this was kind of a shock. Bill Gates was always the backbone of Microsoft, so when Ballmer took over we all knew things would change. In many ways, the company never recovered from that transition. But with a new focus (and a good one) fueling a new business model, Ballmer seemed to be coming into his own a bit.
To see him suddenly jump ship seems out of character and some odd timing. Could it be that other shareholders, of which he himself is, are pushing the man to give up his title for someone who can breath new life into the company? That wouldn’t be too far a leap, given the controversial decisions he has often made to lessening results.
One thing is for sure: Microsoft was, at its heart, a company of innovation and new ideas. But for years it has been stagnant and not reaching anywhere near its former glory. A new, fresher face in the top chair seems like the best move they could make.
So long, Mr Ballmer. I leave you all with this video of the good old days.