“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in a Microsoft press release. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
Ballmer, however, has recently refocused Microsoft in order to drag the PC stalwart into the faster-moving mobile age, initiating drastic sea changes such as the device-spanning Windows 8 operating system, a push towards rapid-fire releases rather than 3-year development cycles, “One Microsoft, all the time,” an increased focus on services and the cloud, and the launch of the Surface brand—Microsoft’s first foray into competing with its manufacturing partners.
Those monumental changes may be the reason for Ballmer’s retirement, according to Patrick Moorhead, the principal analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy and an industry veteran who held senior leadership roles at AMD and Compaq. He finds the 12 month search for a successor suspicious.
“Somebody pissed somebody off,” Moorhead says. “Potentially it was this $900 million write down [for Surface RT tablets]. If I had to bet money, I’d say that that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
Ballmer achievement for Microsoft has been enormous in his 13 years of service. Here are Ballmer’s accomplishments in Ballmer’s own words, via a farewell letter sent to all Microsoft employees.
“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.”
Now the big question is: Who will be the new CEO? Looking at what Ballmer has archived, Whoever takes over the reins will have some mighty big shoes to fill. Ballmer was Microsoft’s 30th employee and its first business manager, and for all the grief tossed Ballmer’s way in the wake of Windows 8, there’s no denying that the company accomplished some amazing things under his stead.