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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer To Retire

by Matt Helgeson on Aug 23, 2013 at 04:23 AM

The shake-ups at Microsoft continue with the announcement that company CEO Steve Ballmer will retire sometime in the next year.

Microsoft revealed the news today. The announcement contained a statement from Ballmer that said, "There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. 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 will remain as CEO until his successor is chosen. A special committee, which includes company founder Bill Gates, has been appointed to choose the company's next CEO.

This is another major change in Microsoft's management. Recently, the company's president of interactive entertainment, Don Mattrick, departed the company to become the CEO of Zynga. Following that move, the company reorganized its Xbox and interactive entertainment divisions, splitting its Xbox operating system and hardware businesses.

Steve Ballmer has been with Microsoft since 1980, when he was hired to be the company's business manager by Bill Gates. He led several divisions of the company on his way to becoming CEO in 2000. His tenure as CEO has been troubled at times. Though the company experienced big successes with products like the Xbox 360 and Windows 7, it also struggled to adapt to the emerging mobile market and launched a series of unsuccessful products like the search engine Bing. Recently, Windows 8 was released to substantial criticism from users.


Our Take:
Change is coming to Microsoft - and fast. This is a huge announcement. Ballmer is one of the iconic figures in Microsoft history, and his over-the-top, gonzo speaking style was his trademark. Though his period as CEO was a somewhat mixed bag, he had been there for the company's entire run, something not many can claim. With both Mattrick and Ballmer gone, it will be interesting to see the direction Microsoft takes in the future. It's certainly got a lot of challenges, especially in the business/OS space, ahead of it. How this will affect the company's Xbox business is unknown, but with all the shake-ups it's clear things will change on that side as well.