In a major development, Microsoft’s controversial CEO Steve Ballmer is to step down from the position within the next 12 months, according to a statement made public by him earlier today. Ballmer, who took over from Bill Gates back in 2000 has been at the helm of Microsoft since then and has seen great ups and downs over the course of the past decade. It was during his time at the position that Microsoft launched a bunch of iconic products including the likes of Windows XP, the Xbox and more recently, the Kinect. All these products have been great successes and there is no denying the fact that Ballmer deserves credit for their creation.
Sadly though, as he prepares to leave the company he joined back in 1980, Microsoft has largely been seen as a laggard in the technology space with the likes of Apple and Google overtaking the company in terms of the kind of products they offered and the amount of innovation that went in to those. Steve Ballmer had met Bill Gates at Harvard University where both were students at one point.
In the statement announcing the news he quips; “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time” – whilst also adding; “We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
Microsoft has in the meantime created a special committee that will debate and find a new replacement for Ballmer. There are reports flying that Mr. Ballmer’s departure has come after activist investing fund ValueAct Capital Management got hold of a small stake in the company. Also, with a lot of executives who were prospective successors to Ballmer leaving the company, it was felt that Microsoft did not have a clear succession plan for a post Ballmer era.
Microsoft shares saw a rise immediately after news of this retirement was announced! Is this a positive sign for Microsoft? Or do you think Microsoft was better off with Ballmer at the helm for a few more years?