Steve Ballmer to retire as Microsoft CEO, says company “has its best days ahead”


Steve Ballmer has announced that he will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, following the appointment of a successor. The man has been divisive, both within Microsoft and among the tech community. The Redmond-based company has made some great products over the past few years, but is seen to constantly mismanage or fail to properly execute the launches. Windows 8 is considered a lacklustre successor to Windows 7, and Windows Phone is still struggling at the bottom of the smartphone market.

The company’s stock is also flat over the past 10 years, as the once-king of technology has seen Apple and Google eat its lunch in many verticals.

Whether Microsoft will fish internally or, like Yahoo, find someone from another firm, remains to be seen. Steven Sinofsky was thought to be the obvious choice for CEO until he abruptly left the company last year. A possible replacement is Canadian Stephen Elop, current CEO of Nokia.

Ballmer penned a letter to his employees, which can be read after the break.

I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. 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. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.

This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.

I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.

I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft’s largest owners.

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.

Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let’s do ourselves proud.