Steve Ballmer's Farewell Letter to the Faithful

Steve Ballmer's Farewell Letter to the Faithful

As you've heard today already, Steve Ballmer is planning to retire within 12 months, or whenever a specially appointed board can decide on a replacement. People are already attempting to guess who will be chosen to replace Ballmer. Many are speculating how long the new CEO search will take, sending Steve out into the same cold world where Steven Sinofsky now lives, the deep boot print still embedded in his trouser backs. It makes me think of a movie scene where a lawman is placed into the same cell block as the criminals he put away. Incidentally, Microsoft stocks rose on word of Ballmer's retirement. I suspect they'll rise even higher once a new CEO is announced.

P.S. I secretly threw my vote for next CEO into the ring with this article. Can you guess who it is? (Hint: the article picture isn't a mistake)

Here's a few choice takes on today's announcement:

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to Retire in 2014 – Paul Thurrott's take on the news

Microsoft CEO Change: 5 Things Steve Ballmer Did Right (Seriously)

Microsoft CEO Change: 5 Things Steve Ballmer Did Wrong

Before the firestorm hit the news, though, Ballmer send an email note to the troops, giving them the bulletin first. Here's what Steve said…

I am writing to let you know that I will retire as CEO of Microsoft within the next 12 months, after a successor is chosen. There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction. You can read the press release on Microsoft News Center.

This is a time of important transformation for Microsoft. Our new Senior Leadership team is amazing. The strategy we have generated is first class. Our new organization, which is centered on functions and engineering areas, is right for the opportunities and challenges ahead.

Microsoft is an amazing place. I love this company. I love the way we helped invent and popularize computing and the PC. I love the bigness and boldness of our bets. I love our people and their talent and our willingness to accept and embrace their range of capabilities, including their quirks. I love the way we embrace and work with other companies to change the world and succeed together. I love the breadth and diversity of our customers, from consumer to enterprise, across industries, countries, and people of all backgrounds and age groups.

I am proud of what we have achieved. We have grown from $7.5 million to nearly $78 billion since I joined Microsoft, and we have grown from employing just over 30 people to almost 100,000. I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way. We have more than 1 billion users and earn a great profit for our shareholders. We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.

I am excited by our mission of empowering the world and believe in our future success. I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft’s largest owners.

This is an emotional and difficult thing for me to do. I take this step in the best interests of the company I love; it is the thing outside of my family and closest friends that matters to me most.

Microsoft has all its best days ahead. Know you are part of the best team in the industry and have the right technology assets. We cannot and will not miss a beat in these transitions. I am focused and driving hard and know I can count on all of you to do the same. Let’s do ourselves proud.



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