Microsoft has just announced that CEO Steve Ballmer has decided to retire from his position as the helm of the company, with a new head of the company to be announced in the next 12 months.Ballmer will thus remain CEO for one more year, as the company continues the transition to a devices and services firm, the tech giant said in a press statement.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said.
“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.”
No reason has been provided until now, but word is that some members of the board, as well as new shareholder ValueAct, aren’t quite satisfied with Ballmer’s new vision.
The tech giant has created what it calls “a special committee” to take care of the transition to a new CEO. John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, will be in charge of the new group, which also includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo.
At the same time, the newly-founded committee will work with Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., with the company said to consider both external and internal candidates.
Bill Gates already issued a statement on Ballmer’s resignation, without commenting on the possibility of returning at the helm of the company.
“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.”
Thomson, on the other hand, explains that Microsoft is already prepared to complete the transition to a devices and services approach, so the new CEO would have to fully embrace this concept.
“The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company,” Thompson said. “As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company’s senior leadership team to chart the company’s course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry.”
So, who’s next? you may ask. It’s hard to tell, but it could all come down to two different names: Bill Gates or Julie-Larson Green, the one who’s been in charge of the Windows division until the Ballmer announced the company’s internal reorganization.