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Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer Announces His Retirement
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Microsoft has shaken up our August repose by announcing that Steve Ballmer, their CEO since 2013, when he stepped in to succeed Bill Gates, will be retiring within the next 12 months. As for who made the ultimate decision on this one, it isn’t clear, though of course in his correspondence with the company Ballmer put it in terms of his choice to give the company what it needs.

He says in his email to the company that “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.”

  
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Indeed, though he says the company needs a CEO who will be there long term while Microsoft transitions to device-focused marketing, criticisms of Ballmer highlight his supposed failure to keep Microsoft competitive against devices such as Apple’s iPhone and Google’s mobile market. In fact, the one sure device Microsoft can brag about is the Xbox game console, which has been bestselling and which just upgraded to a new model. Microsoft has otherwise focused on software.

Ballmer had up till now merely hinted as to when he would retire, saying he would do so after his kids were out of highschool, which some calculated to be around 2017. So the early retirement is a surprise. Equally surprising is that Microsoft doesn’t yet know who will succeed him, though a committee made up in part by founder Bill Gates will make the decision. There are currently 5 likely candidates, including Julie Larson Grun, who ran the Windows group and now heads devices and entertainment, and Tony Bates, former CEO of Skype and current head of business development.

This doesn’t make for the smoothest transition, but perhaps an entirely timely one, now that Microsoft is changing their strategy.

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