Microsoft today announced that its CEO, Steve Ballmer, will retire some time in the next 12 months, stepping down once a sucessor has been chosen. Microsoft's Board of Directors has appoinited a speal sucession planning committe to search for Ballmer's replacement. The committee, which will be led by John Thompson and whose members includes Bill Gates, Chuck Noski, and Steve Luczo, will consider both external and internal candidates.
Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 and took over from Bill Gates as CEO in 2000. During his time as CEO Microsoft has overseen both great success and a number of failures. Windows XP, the rise of Microsoft as an enterprise service player, and billions of dollars of profit fall in the former category, while the company's failure to fully capitalise on the rise of mobile falls into the latter category.
Most recently Ballmer has moved Microsoft towards becoming a devices and services company, a change that will inevitably have a major impact on who is chosen as his successor. Unlike the Bill Gates to Steve Ballmer transition there is no really obvious sucessor, so it is likely there will be speculation on a wide number of names, but the smart money may be on Microsoft EVP Tony Bates.
Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO, said:
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. 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."