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Say goodbye to Microsoft's exuberant leader

To say that Microsoft has been in a "holding position" for the past few years would be an understatement. The company has floundered in its smartphone efforts (Kin, Windows Phone), utterly failed in its tablet efforts (Surface RT/Surface Pro), and has taken heavy flak for Windows 8. Even its upcoming Xbox One console has come under heavy criticism (to be fair, Microsoft has backpedaled on some of the major sticking points).
For years, everyone has been pointing fingers at Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and it appears that the big man himself sees the writing on the wall. Microsoft released a statement today indicating that Steve Ballmer will step down within the next 12 months. During that time, Microsoft's Board of Directors has been tasked with finding his successor.
"The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company," John Thompson, committee chairman. "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."
For his part, here's Ballmer in his own words:
I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.
This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.
I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.
I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft's largest owners.
This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.
Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let's do ourselves proud.

Ballmer’s resignation will mark the penultimate phase of Microsoft’s restructuring efforts that began earlier this year with some executive shuffling. The final phase, of course, will be the naming of Ballmer’s successor.

We're gonna miss old Steve. He may be gone from Microsoft within the next year, but his antics will live on in cyberspace:

Source: Microsoft

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RE: Oh darn.
By Samus on 8/23/2013 11:20:11 AM , Rating: 2
Unlike Tim Cook, he clearly isn't "getting the job done."

The only real flop Apple has had under Cook was Apple Maps. Microsoft has had numerous screw-ups in the same period, especially the "corporate shakeup" which is a complete joke.

This company needs fresh leadership to truly innovate the next step for PC's, as they have done for 30 years.

RE: Oh darn.
By Apone on 8/23/2013 6:02:04 PM , Rating: 4
Unlike Tim Cook, he clearly isn't "getting the job done."

You mean like how Cook let Apple's stock fall considerably and also at one point let it slide below $400 per share? How Mac OS X 10.7 was a commercial disaster to its customers? How Apple lost the title of "World's Most Valuable Company"?

RE: Oh darn.
By Cheesew1z69 on 8/23/2013 7:24:46 PM , Rating: 1
How he "let it" as if he has control over the stock price?

RE: Oh darn.
By Apone on 8/23/2013 8:49:30 PM , Rating: 1
How he "let it" as if he has control over the stock price?

Yes he does have control over Apple's stock price. The CEO of a company answers directly to the Board of Directors (who are elected by the owners of the company - The shareholders).

The CEO is ultimately responsible for the company's performance which includes finances, corporate strategy success, and overall bringing value back to the company owners in the form of increased stock prices.

This is why pay-for-performance compensation is common for CEO's and why often there is a high turnover rate in some companies (e.g. Yahoo, HP, Blackberry, JC Penney).

RE: Oh darn.
By sorry dog on 8/24/2013 5:15:45 PM , Rating: 2
Stock price is determined by the value of future cash flow payments.

Part of that can be or is dividend payments. The other part is the cash flow from sale in the future of the share(s).

The first is very much the responsibility of the CEO. The second depends on many things, and some are totally outside the control of the CEO. When part of the price of the stock is based on it's own price in the future, you can understandably have significant variations not related to financial performance.

RE: Oh darn.
By Apone on 8/26/2013 1:00:24 AM , Rating: 2
You have to look at the big picture. Sure everything you said is technically correct, however the CEO is still ultimately liable if he or she cannot bring value back to the shareholders.

The CEO cannot simply say "well it was out of my hands these last few quarters because of [insert excuse here] so that's why I should be allowed to keep my job".

Stock price is determined by the value of future cash flow payments.

If that's the case, then explain to me how Apple's stock price enjoyed continued phenomenal consistency and growth during Steve Jobs' tenure and then started plummeting after his passing?

RE: Oh darn.
By nikon133 on 8/23/2013 11:32:32 PM , Rating: 3

Also... People like to forget that Microsoft went stale durring Gates last years. Gap between XP and Vista, and Vista itself. Gap between Server 2003 and Server 2008. Even Office had bigger break than usual 3 years. And clinging to old-school Windows Mobile.

Even Ribbon, which originally appeared in Office 2007, must have been envisioned durring Gates era.

Steve had his share of mistakes, but at least he did shake up Microsoft and made it much more dinamic. Windows 7, Windows 8 and 8.1. Windows Phone 7 and 8. Modern GUI for touch devices. Server 2008, 2008 R2 and 2012. Hyper-V. Kinect. Refreshed existing Microsoft hardware line (keyboards, mice) and venture into tablets.

I hope MS will be smart enough to promote insider, someone who is in MS for a while and knows company well. Bringing random "high-profile" CEO didn't seem to work well in recent past.

RE: Oh darn.
By Donkey2008 on 8/24/2013 2:34:35 AM , Rating: 3
Products take years to design, manufacture, market and bring to consumers. Cook happened to take over in-between product cycles.

But, hey, you are right. He should have waved a magic wand the very day he took over and *wooosh* a bunch of new products to drive the stock to $1000 a share should have appeared. What a total failure having the stock at only $500 (which happens to be almost exactly linear with the historic rising price of the stock). DEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERP.

RE: Oh darn.
By Lord 666 on 8/24/2013 3:38:56 AM , Rating: 2
10.7 was under Steve's watch. He even said when the customer spends $20, they can install it as many times they want.

Don't see what the fuss about Lion is. Definitely not a stinker like Vista or Win 8.

Ballmer deserves more credit for Office 365 and hopefully that and Xbox live will ultimately be his legacy. However, Tim Cook is not the right CEO for apple either. While the CEO answers to the Board, their primary role is fund raising for the company By generating interest and providing compelling services/products. Steve got people excited. One CEO that comes to mind is Elon.

RE: Oh darn.
By Helbore on 8/23/2013 7:21:46 PM , Rating: 3
You do realise that Cook has been CEO for only a couple of years and Ballmer has been CEO since 2000, right? Ballmer was steering the ship through Microsoft's greatest period of growth.

You can't compare him to Tim Cook, who still has many years to prove whether he's a success or failure.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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