Microsoft chief to retire

Steve Ballmer has announced he will step down 'within 12 months'.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 03 Sep 2013

Well. No sooner has Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer shaken up the company by reorganising all 100,000 employees into three big departments, than he decides to step down. Yep: Steve Ballmer is planning to retire.

No information yet on what 57-year-old Ballmer will do with his retirement (might we suggest dance classes?), but the company said the chief exec would step down ‘within 12 months’.

Is this anything to do with being voted the 'world's worst CEO' by Forbes last year? Apparently not: Ballmer said it is about timing.

‘There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,’ Ballmer said.

‘We have earmarked a new strategy with a new organisation 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 new CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.’

The hunt for a replacement begins straight away, the company said, and will consider 'both external and internal candidates'.

'We're fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes [their] duties,' said Microsoft founder (and chairman) Bill Gates.

Ballmer isn't leaving at a great time for the company. In July, the company posted results showing that although revenues had risen by 10% tp £14.1bn in the three months to the end of June, it had nevertheless missed analyst forecasts.

Windows 8, its latest product, has received a lukewarm reception - as did its Surface tablet - while sales of PCs, its core market, are plummeting.

Nevertheless, Ballmer now has 12 months to execute his plan to reorganise the company - turning it from a Ford-style production line into something more like its Silicon Valley-based rivals. Whether that's enough time, though, remains to be seen.

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