Steve Ballmer, like marmite you either love him or hate him. His infinite source of hype and excitement on stage could make any member of the audience cringe and he’s had enough internet memes made of him to hold back all the trolls in the world. But when he announced his retirement from Microsoft, it came as a surprise.
Ballmer has been CEO of Microsoft since 2000 and announced his resignation, within 12 months, in August 2013. In an interview with WSJ Ballmer talks about how the decision had built up over time, and he’d come to realise he maybe holding the company back. Suggesting Microsoft needs a completely new captain at the helm, Ballmer offered little in the way of a full answer into Microsoft’s woes, but said he thought he was:
“an emblem of an old era, and I have to move on,”
In a series of interviews Steve Ballmer tells journalists of how he thought he couldn’t lead Microsoft any further. It’s a shame that the entire 33 years Ballmer had at Microsoft had to end in such a way that he doubted his position at the firm. He’s been an influential figure in the technology industry, famously expressing his love and passion for his company on stage.
During the interviews Ballmer says that the board of directors had been pushing him to speed up the change in Microsoft; hopefully transforming Microsoft into a more central services and devices company, a lot like Apple is. Ballmer hasn’t done badly, under his watch revenue has tripled to $78 billion and profits up 132%. But that is exactly where the problem lies. The profit keeps pouring in, but nearly every penny Microsoft holds is accumulated by Windows sales. They are very much, still, a software company.
Microsoft hasn’t been able to keep up with major changes in consumer needs, missing the tablet revolution and only just nabbing the smartphone craze. It seems Windows OS had been their main focus for at least the last 6 years. While Ballmer has put a strategy in place to revive Redmond, he said he had to leave to break the “pattern” that Microsoft is stuck in.
Ballmer himself even concedes that he passionate about Microsoft and this decision was extremely hard. He is likely the most vocal CEO out there. Never afraid to start a fight. Describing himself as:
“I’m big, I’m bald and I’m loud.”
In an emotional and gripping interview, Ballmer has literally laid his heart on the line. It’s very open and, I believe, true. His entire decision stems from what is best for Microsoft. So as the company enters a new era and begin the search for his successor, we’ll watch, noting if Microsoft really does make the change.