Former Microsoft chief executive officer Steve Ballmer announced on Tuesday that he was stepping down from the company’s board citing new priorities, which include a recently purchased NBA team.
Ballmer’s exit, and Bill Gates’ relinquishing the post of chairman in February, will give CEO Satya Nadella more room to operate without anyone peering over his shoulders. “I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off,” Ballmer told Nadella in an open letter, citing “new commitments”.
The committments include a basketball team, LA Clippers, that he has bought recently for $2 billion. He said “civic contribution, teaching and study” will leave him with no time for Microsoft.
But he is not disappearing. “I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will,” Ballmer said, adding, “Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing.”
The former CEO remains the largest individual owner of Microsoft stocks, surpassing Gates recently — about 4%, valued at $15.1 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Under Ballmer, the second CEO, Microsoft continued to focus on its core competency in writing software and missed the mobile and cloud-computing bus.
Microsoft continued to make money, and would have gone on making money for years, but had been left looking old and stodgy by more agile rivals such as Apple and Google.
Nadella has made mobile and cloud-computing the new focus, and has set about overhauling the company — including a massive cut in jobs, 18,000 over a year.