Former Microsoft CEO Ballmer steps down from the board

Former Microsoft CEO Ballmer steps down from the board

Summary: Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is stepping down from the Microsoft board, effective immediately.

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As had been rumored previously, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is stepping down from his current role as Microsoft board member.

ballmerleavestheboard

Microsoft announced the move on August 19.

In his note to current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Ballmer noted he had become "very busy" in the six months since he left Microsoft. He is now the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team. He also said he would be "teaching" (at Stanford University, I've heard).

Ballmer's decision to leave the board is effective immediately, company officials said.

Here's Ballmer's board-resignation note to Nadella:

Dear Satya,

As I approach the six month mark of my retirement and your appointment as CEO, I have been reflecting on my life, my ongoing ownership of Microsoft stock, and my involvement with the company. I have reached some conclusions and wanted to share them with you. I know August is the key month during which the company starts to prepare the proxy statement for the next shareholders’ meeting, and so these thoughts are probably timely for that too.

First, Microsoft has been my life’s work and I am proud of that and excited by what I see in front of the company and this leadership team. There are challenges ahead but the opportunities are even larger. No company in the world has the mix of software skills, cloud skills, and hardware skills we have assembled. We draw talent as well as any company in the world. We have the profitability to invest in long-term opportunities and still deliver superior shorter term performance. You’re off to a bold and exciting start.

Microsoft will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment. Writing great software is a tremendous accomplishment and selling software has been a fabulous business. In the mobile-first, cloud-first world, software development is a key skill, but success requires moving to monetization through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues. Making that change while also managing the existing software business well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has. Our board must also support and encourage that fearlessness for shareholders to get the best performance from Microsoft. You must drive that.

I had not spent any time really contemplating my post-Microsoft life until my last day with the company. In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time. I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms and productivity and the building of capability in devices and services as core business drivers. I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.

Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately.

I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will. I continue to love discussing the company’s future. I love trying new products and sending feedback. I love reading about what is going on at the company. Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing. The company will move to higher heights. I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership. I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.

All the best,

Steve

Ballmer officially retired as Microsoft CEO in February 2014, after 13 years as CEO and 37 years total with the company.

Here's Nadella's public note back to Ballmer regarding his resignation:

Steve,

First, thank you for all of your support during my transition this year and for the past 34 years. It’s been a great privilege to have worked with you and learned from you. Under your leadership, we created an incredible foundation that we continue to build on — and Microsoft will thrive in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

While your insights and leadership will be greatly missed as part of the board, I understand and support your decision. 

As you embark on your new journey, I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft, and we wish you incredible success. I also look forward to partnering with you as a shareholder. 

On behalf of all of Microsoft and the Board of Directors, thank you.

Satya

As to those wondering how and when Ballmer will be replaced, Microsoft officials said the company is always open to adding new board members whenever appropriate. It's not a situation where the company is obliged to add a new board member to bring the current 10-member total up to a certain number. 

And as to those asking whether Ballmer "resigned" or was edged out, I would say it's hard to tell. Some Wall Streeters had voiced concern that Ballmer's presence on the board would be detrimental to the "new" Microsoft. But given Ballmer is now Microsoft's largest independent shareholder (a company spokesperson confirmed this today), I'm not sure how wise it would be to "fire" him.

Topics: Leadership, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer: The Exit Interview

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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50 comments
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  • Good luck Ballmer.

    .
    Owl:Net
    • Ditto

      Good luck Ballmer.
      P. Douglas
      • Relax and Enjoy Life

        Good luck Ballmer. Your energy, excitement, and antics were one of a kind and will be missed.
        Sean Foley
        • Did you NOTICE!

          Nadella's letter: "...Microsoft will thrive in the mobile-first, cloud-first world..."

          It seems that in the long term they want to forsake Windows Desktop. I think they already saw that there is no future for it.
          info@...
  • Hmm, it took six months to go from

    "I've had the time of my life" to "who the hell are you guys anyway?"
    Mac_PC_FenceSitter
    • indeed

      they call it 'retirement' in this world.

      It is when you stop being a corporate slave and spend your time doing something else equally meaningless.

      Since you've dedicated your life to the goals and ideals of a financial construction that we call "enterprise" or "corporation", and that had nothing to do with who you are, you are now finding that yes, it is not hard at all to forget about all that, since it never really meant anything to you anyway. But what DOES mean something? That will be hard to find out.
      kouzen
  • Wow

    Ballmer really did love Microsoft. I think this really has more to do with him loosing the power the CEO came with. What surprises me is that he is still the #1 single shareholder and I would have expected him to stay on the board to protect his investments but maybe he is cashing out.

    Good luck Steve.
    Rann Xeroxx
    • I always thought the moment he made his offer for the Clippers

      that the moment the sale actually went through he would step down.

      He's a new sports team owner, and I would imagine that Board duties would just get in his way at this point.

      In a couple of years he may go back someplace as a Board member, but not right now.
      William.Farrel
    • He didn't 'loose' anything...

      He may have 'lost' power and he may have 'loosened' his shoelaces, but you can't loose something, because it's NOT A F.CKING WORD, YOU LOSERS...
      btone-c5d11
      • Unless you let loose a tirade ;)

        Nt
        achilles heal
  • only 17 years, seems like it was longer than that.

    nt
    greywolf7
    • it was

      He arrived in 1980.
      Mac_PC_FenceSitter
      • But not as CEO ...

        nt
        M Wagner
  • whoa , did not see that coming

    Steve had Microsoft pumping through his veins, thought he would stay part of the board for at least a few years.
    Mary Jo, is he going to be replaced?
    and with the problems Microsoft is having in getting the Nokia Cyan out (i'm still waiting with my off contract 822 to get updated) , the loss of its biggest supporter on the board and the actions of the Chinese government - should we expect Nokia to get sold to Lenova in the near future?
    chips@...
  • The word of the day, apparently, is "Bold"

    Ballmer used it 4 times, Nadella once.

    I worked at MSFT for 12 years (I've been away nearly 3 years now). It's hard to imagine the company without him, or him without the company.
    Flydog57
    • BOLD is definitely the word

      Just finish watching a clip of Ballmer in Los Angeles
      He said the Clipper organization was going to be BOLD
      LOL
      thekman58
      • you sure it wasn't 'Bald' ?

        n/a
        chips@...
  • One of his greatest achievements

    Is this one, I guess:

    youtu.be/wvsboPUjrGc
    Smalahove
  • Former Microsoft CEO Ballmer steps down from the board

    Its hard to find an exec so passionate about a company like Steve Ballmer was to Microsoft. That is why Microsoft has been an industry leader for this long, because of that passion. I know Steve will be missed but now that he has the LA Clippers I would think that will take up a lot of his time coaching, promoting, and just doing general managing of the team. Good luck to him.
    Loverock.Davidson
    • Mr. Davidson

      Steve Ballmer will be the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a professional basketball team. Most professional sports teams have general managers and head coaches that are distinct from the owner(s).

      Personally, I hope Mr. Ballmer leaves general managing and coaching to those that are qualified to do so. As for promoting, Mr. Ballmer might be uniquely qualified to be the Clipper mascot as Microsoft Clippy.

      If Mr. Ballmer does decide to take a more hands on role as owner of the L.A. Clippers, this could have great potential for continued entertainment (think of Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys).
      Rabid Howler Monkey