After 33 years at the company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has said today that he will retire within the next 12 months. Until a successor is chosen, for which the company has already created a special committee that also includes Microsoft founder and Chairman Bill Gates, Ballmer will continue to act as CEO (via MarketWatch).
The news apparently gave a big boost to Microsoft’s shares, which closed up 7.3% to $34.75 today. In a statement, the 57 year old Ballmer said “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time”. He was Microsoft’s 30th employee, and has overseen a period of change in which the world’s largest software maker transitioned away from its focus on PC operating systems to multiple platforms and hardware.
Ballmer has led the software titan since co-founder Bill Gates stepped down from the top job in 2000. During that time, the size of the business has more than tripled, thanks mostly to growth of the core Windows and Office businesses, as well as new lines such as the Xbox videogame business.
But the company’s revenue growth has stalled over the past couple of years, as PC sales have slipped globally due to the rising popularity and capabilities of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets — businesses that Microsoft so far has not been able to build a strong presence in.
According to Microsoft, lead independent director John Thompson will head up the search for a new CEO.