Report: Ballmer's departure was hastened by board, Bill Gates


— 10:19 AM on August 26, 2013

On Friday, Steve Ballmer unexpectedly announced plans to retire as Microsoft's CEO within 12 months. In his announcement, Ballmer said, "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," suggesting that his exit was hastened unexpectedly.

And it was, according to AllThingsD. The site says that, after interviews with "dozens of people" both inside and outside the software giant, it believes Ballmer's departure was "neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed."

AllThingsD claims Ballmer's plan to retire was "moved up drastically" by not just Ballmer, but also Microsoft's board of directors and Bill Gates, the company's founder and former CEO. Gates had been a strong backer of Ballmer's in the past; while he reportedly "never asked Ballmer to step down sooner," he also made no effort to advocate for Ballmer's continued tenure, AllThingsD says.

Multiple sources also told AllThingsD that Ballmer seemed "uncharacteristically chastened and quiet" in meetings after the announcement. One source recalled, "He was definitely not leaving and then he suddenly was. . . . Even if today's Steve made the choice, it was a choice yesterday's Steve did not want to."

In the end, Ballmer announced his departure just over a month after Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings report, which disappointed Wall Street analysts. Speaking to Reuters, one analyst for Pacific Crest Securities called it "the biggest miss we've ever seen from Microsoft, the biggest that I could remember." The quarterly statement included a $900-million write-off related to "inventory adjustments" for the ill-fated Surface RT tablet.

   
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