It’s an announcement that Redmond and the tech world at large is still trying to come to grips with: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer won’t be at the reins of Microsoft for much longer.
On Friday, the Wall Street Journal published an “exclusive” interview with Ballmer, detailing how he came to the decision to leave the company that he’s devoted 30 years of his life to.
The newspaper reported that one of the biggest reasons why Ballmer decided to leave the company was the fact that he realized that he was incapable of changing the corporate culture that he himself had helped create. While he led Microsoft to soaring profits since becoming CEO in 2000, the company has more recently lagged behind in sectors of the tech industry like phones, tablets, and wearable devices.
Rather than continue the longstanding internal divisions within Microsoft, Ballmer moved to consolidate the company in July 2013 and wanted to encourage collaboration much more than before. But indeed, even he could see that the proverbial battleship doesn’t turn on a dime.
"No matter how fast I want to change, there will be some hesitation from all constituents—employees, directors, investors, partners, vendors, customers, you name it—to believe I'm serious about it, maybe even myself," Ballmer told the Journal.
Several weeks before that July 2013 “reshuffle” memo, Ballmer officially acknowledged to himself that he might be part of the problem.
"At the end of the day, we need to break a pattern," he said. "Face it: I'm a pattern."
The solution? Drafting 40 different resignation letters, in secret. When he proposed it to the board of directors, there was little hesitation. So what will become of Ballmer now that he’s set to leave?
Apparently he’s “weighing casual offers as varied as university teaching and coaching his youngest son's high-school basketball team,” but he says that he doesn’t want to “run another big company.”
Still, Ballmer will remain financial and emotionally invested in Microsoft for some time now:
"As much as I wish I could stay your CEO, I still own a big chunk of Microsoft, and I'm going to keep it,” he reportedly said, as his voice cracked, in a recent executive meeting. "Please take good care of Microsoft."