Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced today that he plans to retire from the company.
In a statement released by Microsoft, Ballmer explained his decision to leave the company. “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer wrote. “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.”
Microsoft is going through a massive restructuring at the moment, as the company shifts its main focus away from operating systems (which it will still continue to produce,) and diverts more of its resources towards developing hardware (Xboxes, Windows phones and tablets,) and entertainment services (such as Xbox Live.) The company recently reorganized its Xbox division, splitting its hardware development teams away from their entertainment division.
Ballmer isn’t the only high ranking executive to leave Microsoft this year: a few weeks ago, Don Mattrick, the former head of the company’s Xbox division, quit Microsoft in order to take over as the CEO of Zynga, the struggling social games developer behind Farmville. Ballmer will stay on as CEO until a special committee of board members, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, decides on his replacement.
Ballmer became the CEO of Microsoft in 2000. His tenure at the company has yielded mixed results according to most business analysts: under Ballmer, the company has experienced great success with the launch of the Xbox brand, but the company was also slow to jump on the smart phone and tablet bandwagon, and has consequently lost a fair bit of market share to competitors like Apple and Google.