Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to step down in next 12 months

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will relinquish his role in the next 12 months to end over ten years in charge of the company.

Ballmer wrote an internal email to employees detailing the move that will take place once a successor has been chosen and is designed to help the company transform itself into a devices and services company.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction,” wrote Ballmer in the internal email.

Ballmer pitched up at Microsoft back in 1980 and made his way up through the hierarchy of the company to eventually succeed co-founder Bill Gates as CEO in 2000, and Gates will sit on the committee that oversees the selection of Ballmer’s successor.

“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO. We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties,” Gates added.

The special committee was appointed by the board of directors and is chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director. As well as chairman of the board, Gates, the committee includes Chuck Noski, chairman of the audit committee, and Steve Luczo, chairman of the compensation committee. They will work with Heidrick & Struggles International, a worldwide recruiting firm, with both internal and external candidates being considered for the role.

News of Ballmer stepping down comes only months after rumours he was to lead a major restructure of the company that would have resulted in numerous job cuts and various senior managers taking on advanced roles.