Breaking: Steve Ballmer Quits Microsoft’s Board

Steve Ballmer today posted the following letter on the internet to reveal that he is leaving Microsoft’s board to focus on other things in his life (hint: Clipper’s owner). Read the full letter below.

Dear Satya,

As I approach the six month mark of my retirement and your appointment as CEO, I have been reflecting on my life, my ongoing ownership of Microsoft stock, and my involvement with the company. I have reached some conclusions and wanted to share them with you. I know August is the key month during which the company starts to prepare the proxy statement for the next shareholders’ meeting, and so these thoughts are probably timely for that too.

First, Microsoft has been my life’s work and I am proud of that and excited by what I see in front of the company and this leadership team. There are challenges ahead but the opportunities are even larger. No company in the world has the mix of software skills, cloud skills, and hardware skills we have assembled. We draw talent as well as any company in the world. We have the profitability to invest in long-term opportunities and still deliver superior shorter term performance. You’re off to a bold and exciting start.

Microsoft will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment. Writing great software is a tremendous accomplishment and selling software has been a fabulous business. In the mobile first, cloud first world, software development is a key skill, but success requires moving to monetization through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues. Making that change while also managing the existing software business well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has. Our Board must also support and encourage that fearlessness for shareholders to get the best performance from Microsoft. You must drive that.

I had not spent any time really contemplating my post-Microsoft life until my last day with the company. In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time. I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms and productivity and the building of capability in devices and services as core business drivers. I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.

Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the Board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the Board is effective immediately.

I bleed Microsoft–I have for 34 years and I always will. I continue to love discussing the company’s future. I love trying new products and sending feedback. I love reading about what is going on at the company. Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing. The company will move to higher heights. I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership. I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.

All the best,



If you want to see how Steve Ballmer will spend his time in the coming days, read here.

  • Bruce

    Steve is a good guy


      Yup. He’s very under-appreciated.

  • Lucas

    =,( The end of an era.

    • redtidal

      True to that. Regardless, Ballmer was a force. And his passion will be missed.

      • Topsey

        Only thing greater then his passion was his inability to manage the company.

        We will be digging out of the whole Ballmer put Microsoft in for years to come. Thank goodness we now have a more thoughtful and intelligent leader.

        • Kram Sacul

          Shut up.

          • Topsey

            Ballmer’s manage was based on sucking revenue from the cash cow of Windows & Office at the expense of innovation and success in new markets.

            Only way to defend his tenure is to believe treating employees poorly, having z blind eye to emerging markets, and a extend and defend strategy leads to success. The guy was an embarrassment to the company Gates built, just like he is in those videos.

          • grs_dev

            Dude stop talking out of your ass!

        • grs_dev

          Thoughtful yes. Profitable….? Still TBD
          Thought leadership without cost leadership doesn’t produce a sustainable business model.

          • Topsey

            Yes, very profitable and sooner he spins off or sales all interest in the hardware division it will be more so. Understand the biggest drain on profitability over the next few years will be facing the damage of the Ballmer years.

          • grs_dev

            Very profitable based on what facts?
            Selling hardware division? Do you mean Xbox? Or ex Nokia? You’re all over the place son!

            The only area Microsoft is still relevant in today is Home Entertainment with the Xbox. In every other area of business they have assumed the challenger position.

            You’re suggesting they spin that off. And that somehow will lead to profitability… Interesting!

          • Topsey

            Have you seen the margins MS sees on enterprise Azura? Yes very profitable! In fact software and services is where the MS makes most of their bank! Just check out MS Quarterly reports you we see what I mean. But if those are to difficult for you I’ve included a graphic!

            Now xBox? MS loses money on each unit. With Surface this year the division would show a loss!

            And as you stated MS is irrelevant with consumers but the good news is that they don’t need to be. MS will be profitable selling backend crossplatform services & services to the companies that are relevant.

          • Revben Chase Da Kingdom

            you speak of microsoft being irrevelant in consumer space, but they had profit of 8 billion in last annual report.

          • grs_dev

            Irrelevancy in business is best described as the situation where your customers start to pay less for the value you provide regardless of why.

          • Revben Chase Da Kingdom

            22 biilion in sure last year, twice as profitable as google.

          • grs_dev

            You jumped in late into the conversation.
            The 22 Billion you speak of are the direct result of the Ballmer years.

            We have yet to see the impact of the Nadella leadership. You could argue that he is directly responsible for the Azure business, however, he was installed there by Ballmer. It wasn’t like Nadella went off on his own and created this covert thing within Microsoft that Ballmer was so opposed to and Gosh look how awesome it turned out to be!

            Like I said. Ballmer built a cash cow that shareholders loved and consumers grew to care less and less about. If that’s what you want to grade him on then by all means. I wouldn’t be so quick to grade Nadella just yet. The ink on his new business cards has barely dried yet.

          • Topsey

            You mean despite Ballmer years…

          • Revben Chase Da Kingdom

            have u seen msft revenue reports. then u would be saying that.

  • Mark

    Unsurprising development. But very odd wording and topic choice in that departure email. Oh well, Steve to the end – muddled.

  • Topsey

    Best thing to happen to Microsoft since Ballmer got push out of the CEO job!

    • Emi the Strange

      he surely wasnt… and how is that a “best thing”? oh yeah ignorent people like you who have no idea what a CEO does, and how everything works in a big company like Microsoft.
      I guess Ballmer only was CEO in the bad times? and what about windows 7, xbox 360? and all the other products like Azure and office? oh righttt

      • VHMP01

        Plus bringing like a 3,000 employes company to almost 100,000 or something like that, you know, something most CEOs would not have a clue how to handle!

  • przemor25

    Trzymaj się Steve!