Microsoft has today announced that chief executive officer Steve Ballmer will retire “within the next 12 months.” Ballmer will continue to carry out his role while the company seeks a successor, aiding its transformation into a devices and services company — but he will depart once a suitable replacement is found.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in the announcement today.
“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 joined Microsoft way back in June 1980 as the company’s first business manager, and during the subsequent 20 years, he headed up several divisions, including operating systems development and sales and support. He was promoted to CEO in January 2000 after Bill Gates stepped down.
Microsoft’s Board of Directors has appointed a special committee, which includes Chairman of the Board, Bill Gates, to find Ballmer’s replacement. The committee will work alongside Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., a leading executive recruiting firm, and it will consider both internal and external candidates, Microsoft says.
“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”
In an email to Microsoft employees, Ballmer said that “there is never a perfect time for this type of transition,” but that Microsoft needs a CEO who will be there “longer term” for its new direction.
“Microsoft is an amazing place,” Ballmer added. “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.”
This is the kind of thing we’re going to miss: