“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 said in a letter to his successor Satya Nadella, who was installed as Microsoft’s CEO in February.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization 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.”
Ballmer announced last August that he would step down as Microsoft CEO as the software giant continued to struggle to catch up with Google in the online era. His decision meant that for the first time in the company’s 39-year history, someone other than he or Bill Gates was in charge of the company. Gates stepped down as Microsoft’s chairman in February, but is still one of the company’s directors.
The letter comes a week after Ballmer closed a $2bn purchase of the Clippers from Donald Sterling. “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,” he wrote. “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.”
Ballmer remains one of Microsoft’s largest shareholders, with a 4.05% stake, according to FactSet Research. In his letter he said he had been “reflecting on my life, my ongoing ownership of Microsoft stock, and my involvement with the company.”
“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,” Ballmer wrote.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010