Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months. This according to a statement from the Redmond-based software giant issued Friday, marking the end of a three-decade career at Microsoft for the arm-waving bald one known for his exuberance and, as of late, his inability to lead the company from its prosperous heyday into the smartphone and tablet-weilding future.
A search for Ballmer’s successor will start immediately, according to the company, with Bill Gates indicating he’ll help identify Microsoft’s next leader.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in a statement issued by Microsoft. “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.”
“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,” Gates added in the official statement. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”
It’s possible the company may be even more fortunate to have Ballmer leaving. Having endured plenty of criticism in recent years thanks to the company’s inability to capitalize on the latest technological advancements, Microsoft stock rose more than 6 percent to $34.32 a share Friday after news of Ballmer’s retirement hit, according to the New York Times.
As the New York Times also notes:
Mr. Ballmer, who joined Microsoft in 1980, is leaving a company that is very different than the fearsome software giant of the 1990s. Under his leadership, the company has failed to capitalize on some of the most important tectonic shifts in technology, including the rise of mobile devices and Internet search. Mr. Ballmer has watched as Apple, an old nemesis that nearly went bankrupt in the late 1990s, and Google, which didn’t even exist until then, have soared.
As chief executive, he has faced regular calls for his ouster from investors and analysts in recent years because of the company’s missteps, but Microsoft said Friday the decision to leave the company was entirely Mr. Ballmer’s.