Steve Ballmer’s exit not planned or as smooth as portrayed by Microsoft

“According to sources close to the situation, the departure of CEO Steve Ballmer from Microsoft last week was more sudden than was depicted by the company in its announcement that he would be retiring within the next year in a planned smooth transition,” Kara Swisher reports for AllThingsD. “It was neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed.”

“While the decision to go seems to have technically been Ballmer’s, interviews with dozens of people inside and outside the company, including many close to the situation,” Swisher reports, “indicate that he had not aimed to leave this soon and especially after the recent restructuring of the company that he had intensely planned.”

MacDailyNews Take: Since Ballmer previously said he expected to be Microsoft CEO for many more years, it seems obvious that he was pushed out after numerous high profile failures (Zune, Kin, Windows Vista, Xbox Red Ring of Death, Windows 8, Surface, Windows RT, etc.).

See: Microsoft CEO Ballmer: I’m outta here in 9 or 10 years; as soon as my last kid goes away to college – June 5, 2008

Swisher reports, “Interestingly, Ballmer actually indicated that he had planned on staying in his letter about his impending departure, noting: ‘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.'”

“That sentence spurred much chatter inside the company, including the persistent rumor that Gates had dropped the bomb on Ballmer,” Swisher reports. “That sentiment was further underscored when Ballmer’s letter contained no reference or thanks to Gates, with whom he has been tightly tethered over the last several decades. Its absence has been much discussed internally at Microsoft, where it has been seen as an unusual slight and a sign of a rift… ‘Did Gates instigate it? No,’ said one source with knowledge of the situation. ‘But was he as supportive of Ballmer as he had been in the past? Maybe not.'”

Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last week:

Enough with the “retire” bullshit. Ballmer finally lost Gates’ protection and was pushed out.


    1. I guess Gates… did say…

      In any case… it would be interesting to see what Gates would do… really, would he have done better? Maybe he would have prevented RT from happening, but all the devices are something i imagine Gates doing… unless he wants to stick with software only…

      1. I think Bill Gates saw the inevitable demise of Microsoft coming when he decided to leave full-time employment in June, 2008. He could not stand the thought of Microsoft being upstaged by Apple. And he did not want to ruin his “business magnate” credentials, either. He basically did not want to go down with the ship.

      1. Yeah “Ding Dong Monkey Boy is gone, ding dong Uncle Fester is goooone…” You probably couldn’t find a single Microsoft employee who is sorry he’ll be gone. Hallelujah, the day of reckoning is nearly upon the finest tech clown the world has ever known.

    1. How can you be surprised? He was waiting to retire until ‘kids were gone to college’ In other words, outta the house. He doesn’t want to spend time with his family, and they are probably grateful.

  1. At least we can be grateful for the tremendous leadership Ballmer provided Microsoft. Now, if only Samsung will hire him as CEO, he can continue to serve us well.

  2. I have mixed feelings on Ballmer leaving.

    It’s been a whole lot of fun watching the literally clownish antics. And his reign has certainly good for Apple. So I will miss that.

    And watching a complete non-visionary fall flat on his face time after time has been fun too.

    Without the lucky roommate assignment I imagine he would probably be a shady Wall St. banker. And now he gets a golden parachute and then some, so I hate that. A small part of me wanted to watch him run Microsoft all the way into the ground like RIM.

    But overall, if Microsoft actually produces interesting innovative products (beyond X-Box), I guess that’s good.

  3. I’m kind of sad to see Ballmer go, the monkey boy was so appropriate for Microsoft.

    I’m sure there is some tasty tidbits behind his retirement, but we won’t know that for sure until Ballmer’s biography comes out, in a magazine format of course.

    Needless to say that there is going to be a search for a new CEO but I have a feeling that there is a candidate with the inside track.

    I’m sure many remember the series they did together, and you know this would be a great time for the sequel. I’m sure dozens of people, well close to a dozen people would line up to see it.

  4. Maybe now, Apple will get some real competition and thats when Apple innovates the best. When theres competition out there that starts creating quality ideas and/or products. Things have been too quiet far too long.

  5. I never understood why his retirement date was somehow related to when his kids finished high school. Seems a bit arbitrary; it’s not as if Ballmer needed to keep working to pay for college…

    I’ll bet the minions at Microsoft were secretly praying for that last kid to skip a grade. 🙂

  6. Key passage from the article:

    “Most critical to that decision [Balmer’s retirement], source said, were increased board worries that recent pressure from activist investor ValueAct — which has a large stake in the company — had a good chance of succeeding in its efforts to obtain a seat on the board of Microsoft, especially if Ballmer stayed in place.
    And even if the software giant was able to thwart that from happening, said several sources, such a public fight is untenable for the company, since it was likely to attract even more scrutiny to Ballmer’s performance and perhaps even more investor action.
    ValueAct has until August 30 to notify Microsoft if it plans a proxy battle, and sources said it still wants more than Ballmer’s retirement. In talks, said sources, it has asked for an aggressive stock buyback and also a dividend increase, which might assuage its efforts to garner a board seat.
    Ballmer denied any pressure from ValueAct specifically in his decision in an interview with the Seattle Times, though sources said that was simply bluster.”

    Replace “ValueAct” with “Carl Icahn”, and you have a decent approximation of what’s happening at Apple at the moment.

    Tim Cook had better take heed of this development. Balmer is/was/always will be a clown. Tim is not Balmer. But Cook is making decisions that are strengthening Wall Street’s hand in Apple’s operations. Microsoft played that game with the government sanctioned vultures too, and if anyone thinks their missteps these last 15 years are wholly due to Balmer’s incompetence they are fooling themselves. Gates & Jobs had the strength of will to tell the vultures “no” – Balmer did not – Cook is acting more like Balmer than Jobs or Gates lately – ergo he and Apple could wind up in very similar circumstances as Balmer & MS find themselves in now.

    Jobs gave you that cash as armor Tim, not as gifts to be frittered away to gamblers portraying themselves as ‘owners’. If you don’t get the camel’s nose back out of the tent, and pronto, you – and everyone who loves Apple – will have only you to blame.

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