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Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was pushed to retire early

Published Aug 26th, 2013 7:15PM EDT
Steve Ballmer Forced Retirement

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This time next year, Steve Ballmer will no longer be the CEO of the world’s largest software company. The widely criticized executive announced last week that he planned to retire from his role as Microsoft’s chief within the next year, and he penned a heartfelt letter to Microsoft employees as part of the announcement. While the maligned Microsoft boss said in interviews that the decision to leave was his, a new report from AllThingsD’s always reliable Kara Swisher paints a different picture of Ballmer’s departure.

Swisher says she interviewed dozens of people inside Microsoft and close to the company, and they say the Ballmer’s imminent retirement was “neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed” by Microsoft or by Ballmer in interviews.

“While the decision to go seems to have technically been Ballmer’s, interviews with dozens of people inside and outside the company, including many close to the situation, indicate that he had not aimed to leave this soon and especially after the recent restructuring of the company that he had intensely planned,” Swisher wrote.

In other words, he was pushed out early.

The report states that the timeline of Ballmer’s retirement was accelerated “drastically” by the Microsoft boss and the company’s board of directors, including Bill Gates. “That was due to a number of increasingly problematic issues on the immediate horizon — including a potentially nasty proxy fight, continued business performance declines and, perhaps most of all, that Ballmer’s leadership was becoming a very obvious lightning rod,” the report stated.

Swisher also noted that several of her sources said Bill Gates personally never asked Ballmer to step down earlier than initially planned, though he did support the notion once it was being discussed by the board.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content. Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment.

His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.