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Steve Ballmer’s Impending Departure From Microsoft Opens Spot For New CEO

Aug 28 2013

Steve Ballmer

Steve Ballmer (Photo credit: jdlasica)

Steve Ballmer’s Impending Departure From Microsoft Opens Spot For New CEO

When Bill Gates stepped down as the Microsoft CEO in 2000, it was Steve Ballmer who took over as the head of the tech giant. He was the obvious choice being the company's president at the time. Now that Ballmer has announced his intention to retire within the next 12 months, speculation is rife about who his successor might be. There are plenty of names floating about but there are no clear favorites as of yet. A selection committee that includes Gates will sift through the candidates and determine his replacement.

Ballmer met Gates at the dorms while both were studying at Harvard. Gates dropped out and founded Microsoft while Ballmer went on to graduate magna cum laude. He then pursued graduate studies in Stanford but dropped out when Gates recruited him as the company's first business manager. Ballmer is Microsoft's employee No. 30. The duo went on to build one of the most successful businesses in the world, riding on the momentum of the tech industry in the 80s and 90s.

Ballmer's 13-year tenure is both praised and criticized. As a businessman, he was brilliant in steering the company towards sustained profitability. He was able to maintain Microsoft's dominance in core products such as the Windows operating system and the Office productivity suite despite increased competition. He oversaw the growth of the X-Box gaming ecosystem and the rise of the Server business. However, Microsoft missed out on several opportunities under his watch such as portable music, phones and tablets. Perhaps his successor will have more luck in these important market segments.