“I bleed Microsoft”… Ballmer bows out of Redmond

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has stepped down from his position on the company’s board, after telling CEO Satya Nadella he has become “very busy” since vacating the Redmond hot-seat.

Announced via a statement posted on Microsoft’s official website, Ballmer’s decision comes six months after retiring as CEO.

“As I approach the six month mark of my retirement and your appointment as CEO, I have been reflecting on my life, my ongoing ownership of Microsoft stock, and my involvement with the company,” wrote Ballmer, in a direct letter to Nadella.

“I had not spent any time really contemplating my post-Microsoft life until my last day with the company.

In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time.

“I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms and productivity and the building of capability in devices and services as core business drivers.”

Ballmer holds more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and said he expects to continue holding that position for the “foreseeable future.”

“Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off,” he added.

“The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately.”

A life’s work…

Ballmer said Microsoft has been his life’s work and that he remained “proud and excited” of what he sees in front of the company and this leadership team.

“There are challenges ahead but the opportunities are even larger,” he added. “No company in the world has the mix of software skills, cloud skills, and hardware skills we have assembled.

“We draw talent as well as any company in the world. 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.”

Bold bets…

Ballmer reminded Nadella of the need to be “bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment”.

In the mobile-first, cloud-first world, of which Nadella believes in, Ballmer said software development is a key skill, but success requires moving to monetisation through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues.

“Making that change while also managing the existing software business well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has,” he added.

“Our board must also support and encourage that fearlessness for shareholders to get the best performance from Microsoft. You must drive that.”

Bleeds Microsoft…

Ballmer simply concluded that he “bleeds Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will.”

“I continue to love discussing the company’s future,” he added. “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.”

Nadella’s response…

In response to Ballmer’s letter, Nadella opened with a thank you to the former CEO, thanking him for his support during his transition to power as well as 34 years of service in Redmind.

“It’s been a great privilege to have worked with you and learned from you,” Nadella added.

“Under your leadership, we created an incredible foundation that we continue to build on — and Microsoft will thrive in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

“While your insights and leadership will be greatly missed as part of the board, I understand and support your decision.”

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