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Microsoft Businesses

Ballmer To Retire 633

Posted by Soulskill
from the flying-chair-alert-level-green dept.
Today Microsoft announced that CEO Steve Ballmer will be retiring within the next 12 months. He said, "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 company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction." Ballmer, 57, has been Microsoft's CEO since taking over the role from Bill Gates in January, 2000. The company's board of directors has formed a committee to find a replacement for Ballmer, and he will continue his duties until a new CEO is found. Questions about Ballmer's fitness to remain CEO have been circulating for the past several years, particularly after the company struggled to get a foothold in the mobile market. It will be interesting to see how this affects Microsoft's stock price. Upon retirement, Ballmer will be able to cash out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Microsoft stock.
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Ballmer To Retire

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  • by GrBear (63712) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:34AM (#44653605)

    This may be the best thing that's happened to Microsoft in a long time. Perhaps they will get their clarity back again. I can't help but wonder if there's a deeper story here though, like his abysmal performance causing a backlash to force him out 'gracefully'.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:36AM (#44653635)

    All the money that MS saves on broken chairs will go RIGHT TO YOU!

  • by 1s44c (552956) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:47AM (#44653809)

    I only hope he is replaced with someone as ineffective as he was. The last thing the world needs is an evil monopolist running Microsoft who actually knows what he is doing.

  • by gstoddart (321705) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:48AM (#44653817) Homepage

    ....I swear I didn't look up the stock quote before posting. Microsoft is really up 8.5% right now.

    Good guess, but I think you mostly mirrored what a lot of people think -- that clearly Ballmer hasn't fully understood the market in some places, and that Microsoft has had some misses lately.

    Those are the kinds of things that, while not personally responsible for every detail, Ballmer as CEO gets to 'own' and take the blame for.

    Microsoft may or may not fare better without Ballmer, but if the market watchers are looking at things which could bring Microsoft out of these doldrums, then the perception that his departure could change is bound to lift the stock.

    Of course, this being the stock market, everybody is going to be buying and selling now based on what they think will be happening in 12 months or more from now -- and in 12 months, they'll be doing it based on something totally unrelated to this.

    I will be interested to see if the next CEO is so arrogantly out of touch with what people want, or will continue with the standard party line of "we can do no wrong and people really want these things" even when nobody is buying them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:50AM (#44653859)

    There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time.

    I love how he can state something as truth at the beginning of a sentence and then make a fool of himself by the end of it.

    Don't perfect and right mean two different things in this context?

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:50AM (#44653865) Homepage

    Based on his overall personality, I strongly suspect that if Steve Ballmer hadn't just happened to be college buddies with BillG and Paul Allen, chances are pretty good he'd be selling used cars somewhere and enjoying the nearest football team. Instead, we're going to take him seriously for the rest of his natural life and possible beyond.

  • by 1s44c (552956) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:50AM (#44653875)

    It's not that Microsoft is 'late to the party', it's simply that they make bad products.

    Apple was late to the tablet party but ended up dominating it with pretty and functional products.

  • by spd_rcr (537511) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:51AM (#44653885) Homepage

    Best news I've heard from a local employer in years !
    Now to see if it's not too late to save the company after he's driven off so many of their top, talented people.

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:51AM (#44653887) Homepage Journal
    If they dig Steve Jobs up and put him in charge now, he'd do a better job than Ballmer ever did!
  • Re:Truthful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 1s44c (552956) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:52AM (#44653893)

    My prayers have been answered.

    How so? Do you have a lot of Microsoft stock or you just hate the IT world and want it to suffer more years of monopoly abuse?

  • by virg_mattes (230616) on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:57AM (#44653975)
    I don't see any disparity. "Right" in this context means "best" so it doesn't contradict "perfect".

    Virg
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @09:59AM (#44654011)

    That's the first non-lame chair joke I heard in a long time.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:00AM (#44654041)

    I think the better outcome would be if he were replaced by someone who turns Microsoft into a non-evil success company. I prefer a successful good to a failing evil.

  • by QuietLagoon (813062) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:05AM (#44654107)
    The damage Mr. Ballmer has done to Microsoft in the past eight years is strategic and structural. His successor will have an enormous uphill battle to turn the company around.
  • Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaPA ... m minus language> on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:06AM (#44654131) Journal

    This is bad news, having Ballmer in charge of MS is a good thing as he was slowly mismanaging the company into the ground. A successor could be more competent.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:07AM (#44654155)

    That and NASDAQ was down yesterday due to a computer glitch. Chances are investors are doing double time to get back.

  • by NormHome (99305) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:09AM (#44654211)

    Looks like the Captain of the Titanic is fleeing the sinking ship, after he turned the ship right into that iceberg.

  • by MickyTheIdiot (1032226) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:17AM (#44654343) Homepage Journal

    Given the direction that MS has been in for 5 years and the fact they are in such a hard sealed corporate bubble, hiring Carly (and Carly's mouth) would not be a very big surprise. She's got the ego the size of Africa and she's never right about anything. It seems an appropriate substitute for Ballmer.

  • Hazaa! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by onyxruby (118189) <onyxruby&comcast,net> on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:19AM (#44654365)

    This will be the best thing to happen to Microsoft in many years. Ballmer alienated customers, the public, the press, their employees, the enterprise and those who made their career out of Microsoft's products. 8.1's start button instead of start menu was the nail in the coffin for many, many people from a sheer contempt standpoint. Getting rid of technet and a hundred other things that showed their customers were viewed with contempt as the the enemy can all be cited as examples of why he had to go.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:29AM (#44654553) Journal

    I think the next CEO has a few big challenges on his hands. I'd highlight three in particular:

    First, he needs to get the company out of the mindset that has it still behaving as though it commands monopoly power. It doesn't, or at least, it doesn't in many of the markets where it now needs to compete. It found that out with with the XBox One launch, where it thought that it had the power to force customers to accept things they didn't want to, then was forced into an embarrassing U-turn when Sony offered a viable alternative. It is finding that out in the mobile and tablet marketplaces, which it came to as a late entrant and failed to provide reasons for people to switch. And it's about to find that out on the desktop, where the message coming through on Windows 8 is that even die-hard Windows users will bide their time and see what else comes along rather than making the shift to an operating system that forces unwanted changes onto them.

    Second, he needs to sort out communications. MS does have some good products. The Surface is by no means bad - but it was marketed via that whole incomrpehensible break dancing thing. The XBox One is turning into a decent product (thanks to the aforementioned U-Turns), but every time MS speaks about it, their message comes over as either an apology or a horribly mis-aimed pitch for TV services. MS needs to stop being afraid of selling its products on the basis of its features, rather than coming over like an embarrassing parent trying to be trendy at a teen disco. The obvious answer to the old "I'm a Mac, he's a PC" advertising slur was "yeah, Mac guy looks pretty, but he's actually useless. Look at what PC guy can do". They always seemed curiously afraid to go there.

    Thirdly, judging by the stories that come out of the company, the new CEO needs to sort out some of the staffing and corporate culture issues. MS increasingly looks and sounds like a public sector bureaucracy. Its stack-ranking system in particular is a cack-handed system that's been demonstrated to destroy morale and drive down performance wherever it's used. If MS doesn't want to reduce the size of its workforce, then it needs to adapt its organisation structures in such a way that they actually enable an organisation of that size to respond to new challenges flexibly. That probably means a lot more internal devolution (including over staffing issues).

  • Re:Disagree (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:38AM (#44654705)

    This is bad news, having Ballmer in charge of MS is a good thing as he was slowly mismanaging the company into the ground. A successor could be more competent.

    Your comment (rated at the time 5 Insightful) is a good indicator of why slashdot is becoming irrelevant to any serious person...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @10:48AM (#44654887)

    > The obvious answer to the old "I'm a Mac, he's a PC" advertising slur was "yeah, Mac guy looks pretty, but he's actually useless. Look at what PC guy can do". They always seemed curiously afraid to go there.

    I have to ask: what can the PC do that the Mac can't? That's probably why they didn't go there. You can even run MSOffice + Exchange integrated MS mail client on OSX.

    I agree with 1 and 3 though. And the part of 2 that mentions bad advertising.

  • Re:Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:00AM (#44655047) Homepage Journal

    This is bad news, having Ballmer in charge of MS is a good thing as he was slowly mismanaging the company into the ground. A successor could be more competent.

    Listening to financial and investment analysts this morning, not one has a kind word for Steve. He has missed every big thing while pushing Zune, Windows Vista and then Windows 8, the XBox (games are working well for Atari, right?) Metro (which may be very cool to 10% of users) the RT tablet fiasco, honestly, why does this man actually receive bonuses? He's had the company coasting along on markets it was strong in, without creating new markets. Hardly visionary.

  • Re:Truthful (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dunezone (899268) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:11AM (#44655213) Journal

    How so? Do you have a lot of Microsoft stock or you just hate the IT world and want it to suffer more years of monopoly abuse?

    Its amazing that people still talk about Microsoft being a monopoly. The boogeyman of the late 90's and early 2000's is long gone.

    Markets Microsoft currently controls:

    • Desktop Operating Systems
    • Office Suites

    Markets Microsoft currently fights for control:

    • Servers
    • Databases
    • Home Gaming

    Markets either Microsoft lost or cant put a dent into:

    • Web Browser
    • Mobile Operating Systems
    • Tablet Operating Systems

    The monopoly just doesn't exist anymore The government stepped in over the monopoly and forced their hand. So Microsoft entered markets that already existed and their products either flopped or fight for market share. The markets they did control like Web Browser saw increased competition and eventually Microsoft lost their grip which forced them to heavily improve Internet Explorer while continuing to lose market share. And the markets they still own they own because well the competition cant seem to put a dent into the market.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:12AM (#44655225) Journal

    The big thing? Games...

    Apple's been culturally hostile to gaming for most of its history. And yet it remains a huge driver of home computer sales and platform choice - but it never so much as figures in MS's OS advertising.

  • Re:Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:16AM (#44655299)

    Why do you want Microsoft to fail? They are no longer a monopoly. Competition is good.

  • Correction (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:17AM (#44655313)

    Questions about Ballmer's fitness to remain CEO have been circulating for the past several years, particularly after the company struggled to keep a foothold in the mobile market.

    LMFTFY. MS had Windows Mobile and Windows Tablets before the iPhone and iPad. They were uninspired and sometimes buggy translations of the Windows paradigm. MS had only lately realized that these devices need a different experience than Windows. However Ballmer still considers an iPad as a crippled PC. Well that crippled PC outsells PCs in some quarters making Apple the #1 PC seller. A key difference is that Apple is making tons of profit on it unlike the OEMs which make tiny margins on their PCs.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:27AM (#44655491) Homepage Journal

    I think the next CEO has a few big challenges on his hands. I'd highlight three in particular:

    First, he needs to get the company out of the mindset that has it still behaving as though it commands monopoly power. It doesn't, or at least, it doesn't in many of the markets where it now needs to compete. It found that out with with the XBox One launch, where it thought that it had the power to force customers to accept things they didn't want to, then was forced into an embarrassing U-turn when Sony offered a viable alternative. It is finding that out in the mobile and tablet marketplaces, which it came to as a late entrant and failed to provide reasons for people to switch. And it's about to find that out on the desktop, where the message coming through on Windows 8 is that even die-hard Windows users will bide their time and see what else comes along rather than making the shift to an operating system that forces unwanted changes onto them.

    Microsoft need to spin off XBox. They are an enterprise technology/consumer technology company and this foray into home entertainment is not within their core. Heck, why not buy a movie studio and a chain of fast food restaurants while they are at it. Sell it off, hold a stake in if they wish, but get their attention back to technology.

  • Re:Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaPA ... m minus language> on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:34AM (#44655593) Journal

    They're a very bad influence on the industry and are still trying to regain their monopoly (see: UEFI secure boot).

  • Re:Disagree (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:40AM (#44655677) Homepage Journal

    If stock price is anything to go by, then Microsoft has been a stable multi-billion dollar corporation throughout Ballmer's reign. Microsoft needs to change, but their presumed failure has, so far, been a mighty success compared to most other survivors of the .com crash.

  • Re:Disagree (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 23, 2013 @11:50AM (#44655787)

    Microsoft was a dotcom-startup? And here I thought they had already produced software for quite some time in the last century ...

  • Re:Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) on Friday August 23, 2013 @12:29PM (#44656319)

    One bright spot is Apple blatantly ripping off Metro for iOS 7, which is both a compliment to Microsoft and a way Apple may lose market share in portables.

    There's a few things that MS have done that are fairly good. The UI for WinMo 7 / 8 is good; they're looked at the rest of the market, and they've genuinely tried to improve on that. Equally, the XBox Kinect was an innovative product that truly deserves credit.

    And yet, once these products finally reach market, once upper management have decided how the market should be segmented, how the product will be marketed, it turns to shit. And that's the kind of "magic" that Ballmer brought to the table. That's what he did best... screw things up.

  • Re:Disagree (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dywolf (2673597) on Friday August 23, 2013 @12:30PM (#44656351)

    all companies want a monopoly. microsoft isnt unique in this regard. monopoly/homogenization is one of the natural products/extremes of a competitive market.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) on Friday August 23, 2013 @12:59PM (#44656733) Journal

    Disagree very strongly here. PC gaming is in a much better place than it was a few years ago. Back then, it was a toss-up as to whether the PC got a port of major multi-platform console games and, if it did, it usually got the crappy port. For the last 12 months or so, the PC has been the primary platform for most releases. The piracy rates and DRM-avoidance thing is a rather tired straw-man. PC gamers accept Steam DRM. Developers mostly live with the fact that somebody really determined can break Steam DRM.

    The next-gen console may shift the balance back to the consoles. That's what usually happens early in a console cycle. If so, it will be a temporary thing (just as the current console decline is probably a temporary thing).

    The App Store looked potent a couple of years ago, but it's losing momentum as a gaming platform - largely because of diminishing returns on IAP laden pay-to-win games. The bubble on those has already burst - Zynga and the other companies which rode the crest of it are now going to the wall.

    PC gaming has been "dying" ever since I first started playing PC games myself in 1990. It's no more dying now than it was then.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday August 23, 2013 @01:08PM (#44656863) Homepage Journal

    Investors voice their opinion when a CEx quits, usually by selling. m$ stock went up, maybe more investers are favoring Linux?

    It's about the most visible slap in the face to a CEO one can imagine - In one voice, from those who matter most to him it says, "We're glad you are leaving, please make it soon."

    It may be lonely at the top, but this makes it humiliating, as well.

  • Re:Disagree (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlreadyStarted (523251) on Friday August 23, 2013 @01:16PM (#44656963)

    Most markets don't turn into monopolies. There's nothing natural about them, and they're highly inefficient.

    Nature is entirely monopolistic. If one organism is superior in an ecosystem, it will completely crowd out all competition until all resources are consumed and it dies due to starvation. A lesson that can be learned form this is that the more diverse ecosystems are more robust. I imagine some parallels can be drawn in business.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@ g m a i l.com> on Friday August 23, 2013 @02:30PM (#44657775) Journal

    I would say they have spent the past few years burning their bridges more than the one giant fail that is a shark jump. it would be like you heard the next town over has incredible mansions and great jobs that pay a fortune...so you take a torch to your home and place of business without even bothering to see if the next town over will have you because "hey how could anybody resist me, didn't you hear I was a star 10 years ago?".

    MSFT had 3 golden geese that consistently brought in good money, they may not have set the world on fire but they still brought in piles of cash, and that was Windows desktop, server, and MS Office...so what has Ballmer crapped all over these past few years because the press is going "Mobile mobile mobile ZOMFG CELLPHONES!"? Why Windows desktop, server, and MS Office of course! It takes a special kind of hubris and arrogance to ignore every single bit of data and metric you are shown yet that is EXACTLY what Ballmer has done over and over AND OVER. From everybody pointing out the Zune was big, bulky, and offered nothing over the iPod to Win 8 not working worth a shit except on the teeny tiny niche that is Windows tablets and touchscreen laptops, it didn't matter how many screamed "THIS FUCKING SUCKS!" Ballmer just gave them the finger while sticking out his tongue, thinking that just sticking a WinFlag on something was enough to make it a hit.

    If there is anything we should take away from the Ballmer years it is this, focusing only on what Wall Street cares about while ignoring your customers is a recipe for massive failure, that all the advertising in the world isn't gonna make people buy something they can't fucking stand, all you are doing is pissing money down the drain. By remaining myopic in his focus on making MSFT into Apple Steve Ballmer threw out every strength they had and thought that advertising and name recognition alone could push through changes that benefited ONLY MSFT while giving the person buying the product the finger. The lesson the next CEO should take from this is that you can put sprinkles and glitter and make videos of people dancing with a pile of fresh poo but that ain't gonna make people suddenly want to go out and buy poo, you have to offer them something they actually want to buy.

  • It's interesting seeing the Slashdot comments because they are actually less negative than those of the press.

    From a May 12, 2013 article in Forbes: Microsoft's CEO, Steve Ballmer, "Should Have Already Been Fired." Quote from the article: [forbes.com] "Without a doubt, Mr. Ballmer is the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company today."

    More about Steve Ballmer from that article: "The reach of his bad leadership has extended far beyond Microsoft when it comes to destroying shareholder value -- and jobs."

    Scroll down in this article [modgadgets.com] to see Businessweek's January 16, 2013 cover that called Steve Ballmer "Monkey Boy". The cover says "No More", but that doesn't take away from the fact that the magazine called him Monkey Boy -- on its cover. That's the greatest disrespect for a CEO I've ever seen.

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