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Ballmer: No one asked me to step down from Microsoft

Steve Ballmer handed off the top job at Microsoft on his own volition, according to Steve Ballmer. But he acknowledged there were some “dustups” and hard discussions around his pursuit of Nokia, the mobile phone maker.

“Nobody wanted me to leave as CEO. We had a lot of tough discussions about whether to buy [company]Nokia[/company] … it’s a big decision … we had some dustup type discussions,” Ballmer said on an interview on CBS This Morning. He said the two scenarios were to buy Nokia and make the leadership transition or, if the board didn’t want to do the deal, do the transition then.

The rest is history. Microsoft bought Nokia’s handset business in 2013 and Ballmer said he decided the time was ripe for change. Satya Nadella was ultimately named CEO in February of this year.  It should be noted that a vocal group of shareholders were definitely interested in moving Ballmer out of the top job.

In the interview, which focused mostly on Ballmer’s $2 billion purchase of the LA Clippers, the former Microsoft CEO also deflected questions about his current relationship with long-time friend and colleague[company] Microsoft[/company] co-founder Bill Gates. “We’ve dusted up in our lives many times and that kind of stuff happens,” he said.

He also came to the defense of his successor over Nadella’s recent comments about women in tech not needing to ask for raises: “When you’re the CEO of a big company you have to think about the 7 dimensions of what you say.”

Basically, he said Nadella was talking about his own personal experience — which saw him rewarded for good work. “Relating his personal experience was probabaly not what that group of people needed to hear at that time … some people don’t get a square shake,” Ballmer noted.

For the full interview, check out the clip here.

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