Steve Ballmer is leaving Microsoft’s board of directors. In a letter to CEO Satya Nadella posted to Microsoft’s web site, Ballmer said the timing is right, as Microsoft is about to file its proxy statement and he has new commitments to pursue. Indeed, this news comes just days after his $2 billion bid to buy the L.A. Clippers went through.
He noted challenges ahead but maintained Microsoft is well equipped — and well funded — to deal with them. “We have the profitability to invest in long-term opportunities and still deliver superior shorter term performance. You’re off to a bold and exciting start,” Ballmer wrote.
This is the end of an era, although it’s not a huge surprise. Ballmer said last summer he would step down as CEO within the year and Microsoft named Nadella his successor in February.
Per the letter:
I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will. I continue to love discussing the company’s future. I love trying new products and sending feedback. I love reading about what is going on at the company. Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing. The company will move to higher heights. I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership. I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.
Ballmer took his share of hits — probably more than was fair — for the company’s recent travails, such as its struggle in mobile and cloud where it watched Apple and Amazon take those respective markets by storm. But, he also should be given credit for supporting the company’s move to cloud with Azure which, despite yesterday’s major glitch, is now a force in the market.