Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer to Retire
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in a statement. "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."
A special selection committee will spearhead the effort to find a replacement for Ballmer. That includes John Thompson, the board's lead independent director, board chairman Bill Gates, audit committee chairman Chuck Noski, and compensation committee chairman Steve Luczo.
"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."
Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 and was named CEO in 2000. He really became the public face of the company, however, after Bill Gates retired as chief software architect and chairman of Microsoft in 2008 in order to pursue philanthropic efforts.
Since then, Ballmer spearheaded the successful launch of Microsoft 7, but the firm has stumbled recently with the launch of Windows 8 and its Surface tablets. Windows Phone has also struggled to compete against iOS and Android, though it has picked up a little steam of late.
News of Ballmer's retirement, meanwhile, comes one month after he outlined a major structural overhaul of the software giant, an approach that he dubbed "One Microsoft." The move is intended to boost collaboration and communication among Microsoft's various teams and products.
"Going forward, our strategy will focus on creating a family of devices and services for individuals and businesses that empower people around the globe at home, at work, and on the go, for the activities they value most," Ballmer said at the time.