After 33 years at the company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months. Until a successor is chosen, Ballmer will continue as CEO, the company said this morning.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer, 57, said in a statement. “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.”
The company said lead independent director John Thompson will head up the search for a new CEO and the committee will include founder and Chairman Bill Gates. Investors cheered the news, sending Microsoft shares up 6.7 percent to $34.57 just after the opening bell in New York.
Ballmer, who was Microsoft’s 30th employee, has been CEO since 2000. He’s overseen a period of change as the world’s largest software maker has transitioned away from its focus on PC operating systems to multiple platforms and hardware such as tablets. But the company’s rapid growth days are long past, with the shares trading in the $20 to $40 range since his tenure began while rivals including Apple have increased their shares 10-fold.
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