Steve Ballmer to resign as Microsoft CEO
News has broken this morning that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has unexpectedly announced his retirement causing shares to surge 6-7% in morning trading. Ballmer has been at the helm since January 2000 when he took over from Bill Gates but his tenure has certainly been decidedly mixed with equal parts success such as the launch of Windows 7 and outright failures like the Kin line of smartphones.
Even though I spend more time on this blog talking about movies and video games than business/leadership people should not link this news with the Xbox One debacle as this is more the result of his entire past work and the fact that the once great company has been supplanted as the tech leader by both Apple and Google.
Ballmer presided over a company that completed missed the shift to mobile computing and was slow to turn things around in releasing Windows Phone 7 so much so that it led to Android and iOS dominance. At the same time Microsoft sat idly by while Apple started the tablet revolution with the iPad even though Microsoft had been in the space for years albeit with limited success.
Microsoft is still a hugely profitable company but much of that has to do with past success and the fact that it has a stranglehold in the business space with its line of products like Windows, Microsoft Office and SQL Server.
With the exception of the Xbox the company has had a hard time bringing new products to the market with huge success. Windows 8 is selling fine but the perception is that it is more in line with Windows Vista rather than Windows 7 while Windows Phone 8 is continuing to struggle. Windows 8, specifically Windows 8 RT, has been a failure and Microsoft had to take a $900 million hit in the last quarter due to sluggish sales.
Ballmer has announced that he will retire within the next twelve months but that a special committee has already been formed to start the process of finding the next CEO. It goes without saying that whoever is chosen is going to have to work hard to re-organize and re-orient the massive company to better compete in the marketplace.
I am no big fan of Steve Ballmer but the tech world will be losing one seriously “animated” character as he has been known to go slightly “bonkers” during his presentations such as this infamous example:
How about Ballmer pitching good old Windows 1.0?
Still, I’ll always remember Bill Gates and Ballmer like this:
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