Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer to retire
BY ED COLLINS
Special to Patch
The stunning announcement on August 23 that Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer, 57, will be retiring during the next 12 months has created considerable interest throughout the technology world.
Hand-picked by college buddy Bill Gates back in 2000 to run the Seattle company, Ballmer has had his ups and downs in the fast-paced industry.
Over the years Ballmer turned Microsoft into one of the most profitable companies in the world by effectively marketing the popular Windows Office software. He also produced innovative Xbox gaming devices, launched the Bing search service, and acquired several new businesses that spurred company growth.
But Ballmer also missed the boat in some key product areas that Apple trumped them on. Only lately, and now in a saturated market, did Ballmer recognize the importance of the mobile market that Apple quickly conquered with its iPods, iPads, iPhones and other products. Then there were the failures like the ill-fated purchase of Yahoo and of course the latest big dud being Windows 8.
The press had plenty to say about Ballmer’s planned retirement:
Nicholas Thompson, writes in the New Yorker, that “Ballmer proved to be the anti-Steve Jobs. He missed every major trend in technology.”
Harry McCracken, of Time, indicates “I can’t imagine that there’s anyone out there who believes that it’s a given that Microsoft will be anywhere near as important to the future of personal computing as it has been in its first four decades.”
Samara Lynn, of PC Magazine, wrote that Baller’s legacy would be how he changed the business tech landscape. “It was not until Bill Gates named Ballmer CEO in 2000 that Microsoft’s real push to woo businesses to Windows software commenced, and it’s been a love affair ever since.”
And Dan Gross, of The Daily Beast pontificates, “While Microsoft hasn’t exactly been a success story for the past several years, it hasn’t imploded, as so many other well-known computer firms have. The company pays a dividend, buys back its stock, earns profits, employs lots of people, and continues to introduce products that lots of people seem to want to buy. In other words, Ballmer didn’t destroy the value inherent at the firm.”
Microsoft now has a chance to refresh itself and its product lines under a visionary new leader. One who is a change agent and can strengthening the company, decipher market trends, and initiate creative new products that sell.
Outside candidates being mentioned for the Microsoft job include Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, AOL/Patch CEO Tim Armstrong, COO Sheryl Sandberg, Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, and Hewlett-Packard COO Bill Veghte.
Some inside candidates being mentioned include Julie Larson-Gree, Microsoft’s EVP of Devises & Studios; and Kevin Turner, the company’s chief operating officer.
Ed Collins is a digital journalist who writes for Passages, the official blog of The Northwest of Us. It's the largest Apple users group in metro Chicago. The group meets on the second Saturday of each month at 10 am at the Hyatt Place Hotel, Schaumburg. It's web site is www.northwestofus.org