Ballmer on retirement: It was time for me to go for Microsoft to thrive

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer surprised a few people when he announced his plans to step down within the year. The announcement came shortly after he announced his new “One Microsoft’ plan that would turn the software giant into a devices and services company. What led to such a drastic decision after announcing plans that would fundamentally change Microsoft? The Wall Street Journal had an interview with Ballmer about his time at Microsoft, the thoughts that led to his retirement, and what he’s doing until he officially steps down.

Some call the past ten years Microsoft’s “Lost Decade”, even though revenue tripled to $78 billion and profit grew 132% under Ballmer’s watch. That’s mostly because Microsoft maintained impressive growth with Windows and Office, but it’s hard to argue that Microsoft might have missed a few potential chances to be market leaders in areas like mobile.

This inability for Microsoft to react faster to changes in the market led to some pretty drastic changes within Microsoft. Ballmer himself wanted to see the company become an engine that could react to those market changes. That required some shifts in how Microsoft operates as a company, both from leadership teams to employees.

Ballmer even saw himself as a potential anchor slowing down the changes he’s been planning.

"At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern," he says. "Face it: I'm a pattern."

So at the end of the day, Ballmer decides to remove himself in order to see his plan succeed. What’s next for Ballmer? He’s open to anything, but won’t commit to anything for at least 6 months. He has no desire to run another larger company, however he is interested in either teaching at the University level or coaching his son’s basketball team.

Hit up the source link below to read the interview in full at the WSJ.

Source: WSJ, Via: The Verge

Sam Sabri
  • I'm gonna miss this guy.
  • What a classy guy. He finds that he himself is holding MS back, and is man enough to step up and say it. He TRULY cares about the future of Microsoft.
    Kudos to you Steve, you'll be missed.
  • Microsoft is his life, he said it many times. He drives a Ford because his father worked there his whole life. Ballmer is a company man who really loves Microsoft. So it's not surprising that he would step down if he thought he is part of the problem, the surprise is more that he realized that. Most of the time your ego won't let that happen
  • Say a year or two from now. Do you think hes using iphone/ipad or MS products?
  • He will be using Microsoft until the days the dies for sure.
  • Agreed. While his business decisions haven't been top notch, there's no denying he's devoted to Microsoft.
  • Can't imagine him using anything else but MSFT products
  • I can't agree more
  • Is he really a problem to MS?
  • Yes. The number of failures during his tenure are greater than success and far more so in missed opportunities and lost revenues. Ballmer's expiration date was 10 year ago.
  • Ten years ago MS was under constraints by the DOJ; check your facts
  • Yeah. And the way Steve Ballmer treated the Windows Phone Team the worst (delay updates, disallow main changes for WP8, not mainly admitting faults in WP8 etc.) making Joe Belfiore's worklife in Microsoft a living hell then yes it's time for Ballmer to go, we don't need him to lead Microsoft anymore to keep delaying our Windows Phones' updates and make us WP users suffer.
  • Yep. Ballmer goes, and five minutes later they (finally) get rid of stack ranking. Maybe now MS will start performing.
  • Glad to hear they got rid of stack ranking. That is one of the most insidious killers of productivity and company cohesion known to man.
  • I'm with you.
  • make Mr. Elop the CEO and you will miss whole MS company.
  • Can't wait for the "Windows is a burning platform" memo.
  • The more I look at Elop's track record, the more I dislike him. Seems his M.O. is to go into a company, set it up for acqquisition, then take the huge payout and move onto the next target. He did that at Macromedia and sold it to the Adobe monopoly and hurt the consumer in the long run.
  • Bring back THE LORD, BILL GATES
  • Yeee I was thinking that Too!!! We want Bill Gates!!
  • He really did miss mobile. This one will hurt Microsoft for many years to come
  • He kinda looks like a high school basketball coach.
  • He missed mobile but kept the company extremely healthy and with the financial muscle to reinvent itself successfully into this Services and Devices company. Say what you want, but Ballmer really loves Microsoft, he's very passionate about it.
  • Microsoft was talking and trying mobile, both smartphones and tablets, since the Gates days and still was able to be blindsided by Apple (despite all the many rumors). That's a bad mark on the entire management team. They didn't miss on the cloud. Azure is doing very well and will just get bigger. The only real competition there is Amazon's AWS
  • MS was ahead of it's time when it first attempted tablets and phones.  The hardware to create anything similar to the current generation tablets/phones simply didn't exist back then.  When the hardware did start to become available MS was focused on enterprise which is arguably an equally important (if not more important) market.  Apple and later Google were able to get a jump on mobile as a result.  However, I don't think MS "screwed up" exactly.  I just think they made a descision to focus most of their resources on other markets at that point in time.  Personally, I don't think that was a bad move in the long run.  They have become the defacto standard in enterprise for many different products and that market doesn't move quickly so their dominance won't chance anytime soon.  They are doing very well in most other markets they compete in as well.  Mobile on the other hand has a full turn over about every two years (people get new devices at that rate) and it's still very new so there is plenty of opportunity to catch up.    Other than attempting to add mobile to all of the other markets that MS was competing in from ~2005 through ~2012, I don't think their long term strategy could have been much better.
  • Microsoft isn't going anywhere anytime soon. The only compitition they have is Linux ever since Apple discontinued their Xserve line and litterally pulled out of the corperate business in favor of the consumer business. While Linux is can be a good backend for businesses, unfortunately application support is still no where near the amount of support as it is with Windows. So as long as that trend continues to happen, Microsoft will always be king of Enterprise solutions.
  • Agree djrbx
  • Just bring bing up to date with themes and such ( I really enjoyed Halloween displays). Enjoy yourselves, cause I really enjoy Bing except search bar on top. But love the engine.
  • Applause. He'll be missed. Just don't make Elop CEO.
  • THIS!
  • I don't see how Elop could become CEO of a devices and services company if he wants to focus heavily on Office. It seems Elop would completely undermine the reason Ballmer is retiring.
  • Great Leader. Not very charismatic, but he was great.
  • Not charismatic??? Don't tell Ballmer that lol
  • People seem to forget, that Microsoft was handcuffed to the Department of Justice for near the entire time that Ballmer was CEO and, not inconsequentially, both Google and Apple thrived. Those shackles have only recently been removed :)
  • Good point.  It is easy to forget that.  This was the case in the EU as well.   In addition, I think most people believe that anti-monopoly laws are in place to punish evil companies that deserve to be spanked and force them to play fair.  In reality, anti-monopoly laws are often used to give the little guy an "unfair advantage" because the dominant company is doing too well in a market.  It's not always that the dominant company is doing anything unreasonable, it's just that balance has been lost in a market and it needs to be restored for capitalism/competition to work properly.
  • I just wish the same DOJ laws that put MS behind in mobile would now handcuff Google just like they did MS 10yrs ago, but what's good for the goose in this case isn't good for the gander. Microsoft has done some much good for others, but now their getting the short end of the stick : (
  • we can only hope that Apple and Google should face the same scrutiny that tried to break MS up
  • Have they been removed, really?
  • Well said!
  • Seems like real cool dude. I have newfound respect for him.
  • How could you wait so long to take the mobile platform seriously? Microsoft shot themselves in the foot with this one. Now they have to play catch up for the next 10 years. You can only do so much to a cell phone so eventually they will catch up. Now will they catch on is a different question entirely.
  • Now "catch up" is looking fashionable. With the recent facelift with Microsoft, soon I think people will recognize that Microsoft has some really modern, really cool products.
  • Wait...they're taking mobile seriously? One could swear otherwise...
  • Its called the DOJ
  • And Suddenly ! I'm gonna miss Balmer !
  • Wow, without looking at the live tile too closely I thought the article's title read "Ballmer on Retirement: It was a joke"
  • I'll miss Ballmer, great CEO.
  • Ballmer looks like a college basketball coach.
  • You will be missed Steve. Thanks for all the hard work. Regardless of what fools say.
  • Imo he did a perfect job. MS is still a very healthy company and is innovating like crazy right now. Also he has great charisma, he is just interesting to watch and very passionate. Something you can't say about a boring elop who only cares about boring products like office.
  • I don't want the stupid Steven Elop to hold Microsoft, because if he close Bing and Xbox Microsoft will dead!
  • I'm guessing English isn't your first language.
  • Haha +1 xD
  • I think hes a great guy and very passionate about the company a bit like myself and it takes a big pair of balls to admit that he was holding back ms plans. But i have no doubt ms will succeed in the mobile market. With out ms i wouldn't be where i am today
  • So that means ballmer has a big pair of balls????
  • Indeed it does
  • Wow, what a guy. I really hope I get to meet him at some point in my life. Seems like you could have a nice chat with the man.
  • That must be a really tough to say. It's probably a crappy feeling to think that you're the biggest drag on the company, and that your leaving a place you've run for so long is a good thing. I imagine it's very humbling, and I'm surprised he could say that so candidly.
  • great man
  • With his voice, he could be coach for any team in the world :)
    Sad to see him go though. I'm not sure I'm going to like the new Microsoft.
  • Thanx for all the hard work Steve! And for "modernizing" MS!
  • How much more boring will MS be now? Just a fun, honorable man. Hope he has no regrets.
  • He presided over impressive growth. Yes they missed some opportunities enroute but if they had choose not to focus on the core without first preparing it then things could of been so different. After all Microsoft does not have the phoenix rising advantage that Apple enjoyed although I am not sure to many enjoyed the rising at the time.
  • What a guy, anyone that can truly think outside the box in order to solve a problem or obstacle commands great respect imo. In this case he saw himself as an obstacle and decided to remove himself for his plan to succeed which not only proves he loves microsoft truly but is a true leader, as righteous as it may sound most CEO's are motivated by money (or rather investor driven) and not driven by passion to lead their company to greatness. However he has made mistakes (he is a person not a machine after all), but mistakes are never clearly evident at the time. Hence "in hindsight I would have done this differently", which is how we learn and adapt to avoid making them again. I just hope the next CEO will share the same vision, drive and not falter under investor pressure, which is not easy and simple as it is sounds.
  • Yeah, the next appointed CEO is going to feel some pressure to follow in Ballmer's footsteps for sure. But I'm confident the right person will be picked and will lead Microsoft further to global invasion.
  • Blah, blah. He want some living for himself.
  • Microsoft need a CEO with similar passion to what Ballmer had. That being said, Microsoft may never find suitable replacement for this crazy guy.
  • I guess I'm one of the few here who believes he should have 'stepped down' years ago. While I like my Windows phone, it is the only MS product I use anymore. Tablet, I use Android (which even then, I've given up on tablets and use mainly my laptop & phone). Laptop/Desktop I switched to Mac. Office I use Libre & Google Docs. Under Ballmer I made the move away from MS products. Hopefully someone new will renew my interest in their products.
  • Yeah but the elephant in the room was Nokia did it better!
  • ...and who is that bigger dude Thompson think he is calling Mr Ballmer 'hey dude'. If that dude Thompson is so smart why isn't he's the next CEO. He might just run MS to the ground.