Microsoft has announced that current chief executive Steve Ballmer is to retire in the following twelve months, despite a recent corporate reshuffle which appeared designed to place him at the centre of the company's operations.
Ballmer joined software giant Microsoft back in 1980 after his friends Paul Allen and Bill Gates proved their decision to drop out of university - Washington State for Allen, Harvard for Gates - had been sound by growing the tiny Micro-Soft (as the company was then styled) to a significant force in the burgeoning computing business. The company's 30th employee, and first business manager, Ballmer has since made a name for himself with a bombastic personality often verging on the ridiculous - starting with an 'enthusiastic' advert
for Windows 1.0 and going right through to the infamous howler monkey dance
, claims of chair-throwing during meetings and threats to 'f***ing kill Google.'
His critics can celebrate, however: he's for the off. Over the next twelve months, Ballmer and the board are to choose a successor for the role of chief executive officer with incumbent Ballmer stepping down once the process is complete.
'There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,
' claimed Ballmer in his surprise announcement today. 'We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organisation and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company's transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.
The Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process of choosing a successor. This committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board's lead independent director, and includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo.
'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,
' claimed Gates. 'We're fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.
As a suitable send-off for Ballmer, and by popular demand, his crowning moment is embedded below. Just turn your speakers down before hitting the play button.