Steve Ballmer unexpectedly steps down from Microsoft board
Published 20/08/2014 | 10:06
Steve Ballmer has unexpectedly stepped down from Microsoft’s board, cutting all executive ties to the company he led for 14 years.
The technology veteran, who remains the company’s biggest individual shareholder, wrote in a letter to his successor, Satya Nadella, that he was finding retirement much busier than expected, and was no longer able to sufficiently focus on the business.
“I had not spent any time really contemplating my post-Microsoft life until my last day with the company. In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy… [Given] the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off,” he wrote.
Mr Ballmer marked his retirement by buying the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for a $2bn. He also plans to take up a teaching position.
Even so, the executive’s departure came as a surprise to analysts and investors. They had speculated he would step down from the board before Mr Nadella was appointed, but expected him to remain there for some time once he confirmed he planned to stay on.
Mr Ballmer spelled out in his letter that he has full confidence in Microsoft’s new leadership, telling Mr Nadella that he was off to a “bold and exciting start”. “There are challenges ahead but the opportunities are even larger,” he wrote, adding that he expects to hold on to his 333m shares in Microsoft for the “foreseeable future”.
The 58-year-old Detroit native added that he will remain on hand in an informal advisory capacity to the company he described as his “life’s work”. “I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will. I continue to love discussing the company’s future,” he wrote.
Mr Nadella responded with a shorter letter, thanking Mr Ballmer for his “support” during the change of leadership, and wishing him “incredible success”.
“While your insights and leadership will be greatly missed as part of the board, I understand and support your decision,” he said.
“As you embark on your new journey, I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft, and we wish you incredible success. I also look forward to partnering with you as a shareholder.”