Following his retirement as Microsoft’s CEO and the appointment of new CEO Satya Nadella, Steve Ballmer has decided that it’s now time for him to leave the company’s board of directors as well.
Ballmer, 58, announced his decision to step down from the board in a letter to Nadella that was later published publicly yesterday. In it, the former CEO delves into his thoughts on life post-Microsoft and how the company has a bold future ahead of it under a new leader. His main factors for leaving, however, are attributed to his new role as owner of the Los Angeles Clippers –which he bought this year for $2 billion– civic contributions and his teaching duties at both Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and the University of Southern California.
“I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will,” said Ballmer in his letter. “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.”
Ballmer was only the second CEO at Microsoft, following Bill Gates, and was with the company for 34 years. At the time of his joining back in 1980, he was only the 30th employee. And as of May 2014, he is Microsoft’s largest individual shareholder, owning exactly 333.3 million shares. Prior to him, Gates held the largest number of shares but eventually sold 4.6 million of it.
Ballmer’s departure marks yet another major shift to occur within the board, as wireless executive John Stanton joined earlier this year, and the aforementioned Gates saw fit to step down in favor of being replaced by independent director John Thompson. The latter being one of the members that helped in the search for a new CEO after Ballmer announced his retirement last year.
Meanwhile, in his own letter written in response to Ballmer (also available to the public), Nadella expressed gratitude to his predecessor, who helped him settle into the new position and called it a ‘privilege’ to have worked with him. With Ballmer now gone, though, Nadella now has an easier time leading the company and putting more of himself into it.