Microsoft’s eccentric CEO will step down from his role once his successor has been chosen

The CEO of Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, today announced he would be retiring from the role within a year, with no word of his future plans.

The eccentric executive was appointed leader of the software giant back in 2000 after its founder, Bill Gates, stepped down. However, after 13 years, he claimed now was the time to hand over the reins.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” said Ballmer. “We have embarked on 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 CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Ballmer will stay on as CEO until his successor is appointed – a job which will fall to a special committee set up by Microsoft’s board of directors, which includes Gates.

“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.” 

We asked Microsoft what Ballmer planned to do after he left and whether he would stay on as a member of the board, but the company’s spokeswoman would not comment.

The announcement comes at an unsure time in the company. The launch of Windows 8 saw negative reactions from the industry, whilst its Windows Phone 8 mobile operating system has steadily increased market share, even overtaking BlackBerry.

However, the market reaction was very positive, with share prices for Microsoft shooting up by 9% since the announcement.  

Ballmer has been an employee at Microsoft since 1980 – he was the 30th person hired at the firm – and was the first business manager that Gates took on. He headed up a number of divisions in his 33 years, including operations, operating systems development, and sales and support, as well as leading the development of the .NET Framework.

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