/ By Clive Minchom/
Microsoft today announced that Steve Ballmer one of the early partners of Bill Gates at Microsoft – he was its 30th employee joining the company in 1980, will be retiring within a year. Earlier this year Forbes estimated his personal net worth at US$15 billion; after today’s announcement that has already gone up by about US$1 billion, so far.
Here is what he has to say about his retirement himself as penned in an open letter to employees of the company released at this important moment – important for the company’s history and perhaps for its its future too:
“I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. 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. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.
This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.
I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100, 000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.
I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft’s largest owners.
This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.
Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let’s do ourselves proud.” Steve
Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft on June 11, 1980, on a low starting salary of $50, 000 as he had the good sense and vision to accept Gates’ offer to receive shares in the fledgling company in lieu of salary. That turned out to be a very good deal for Ballmer who ended up owning eight percent of the company. Ballmer sold a large share of his shareholdings for an undisclosed sum, leaving him with a 4% stake in the company.
Ballmer was never regarded by too many people as Bill Gates natural successor, as his leaning was always towards sales and marketing, acting as Executive Vice President of Sales and Support from 1992 to 1998, till he was appointed President and eventually Chief Executive Officer with special responsibility for the company’s finances, to the Gates remaining chairman of the board and chief software architect. That situation remained till Gates stepped down as chief software architect in 2006, while staying on as chairman, a post that he eventually relinquished in 2009, leaving Steve Ballmer resigned from day-to-day management to concentrate on his charitable activities
Under Ballmer’s tenure as CEO, Microsoft’s annual revenue dramatically from $25 billion in 2009 to $75 billion in 2013, while its net profit rose 215 percent to $23 billion, with Ballmer making considerable efforts to lead the company away from what he considered as “the company’s PC-first heritage”.
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