Ballmer departure reportedly more sudden than Microsoft stated

Steve Ballmer's departure from Microsoft was reportedly sped up because of both internal and external conflict.

When Microsoft announced Steve Ballmer's impending departure from the company last week, it portrayed the chief executive's decision to retire as a carefully planned moment. According to a new report, however, the chief executive's departure is more sudden than originally revealed.

AllThingsD, which accurately broke the news of Microsoft's restructuring in recent months, reports Ballmer's decision to leave was sped up because the executive's leadership was viewed as "becoming a very obvious lightning rod," among other reasons. The outlet cites "dozens of people inside and outside" of Microsoft as the sources of the information, with "many" of the unnamed sources being "close to the situation."

According to AllThingsD, Ballmer initially planned to stay at Microsoft much longer, though his retirement was "drastically" moved up by the executive himself. After coming to the decision, Microsoft's nine-member board board agreed it was in the company's best interests. Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates, who has supported Ballmer in the past, allegedly didn't ask Ballmer to step down, though AllThingsD's sources implied the former CEO's faith in his replacement had waned.

When asked if Gates spurred Ballmer's decision to retire, one source "with knowledge of the situation" allegedly said the idea was Ballmers, adding, "But was [Gates] as supportive of Ballmer as he had been in the past? Maybe not."

A variety of investors called for Ballmer's resignation since he took over the company from Gates in 2000, and the company's listing on the NASDAQ stock market surged in response to the CEO's announcement he would retire within a year's time. Several media outlets speculated that the lukewarm reaction to Windows 8 led to Ballmer's departure, and AllThingsD's report indicates the slowed adoption of the operating system was part of the reason the retirement timeline shifted forward.

Another factor, the report claims, is an expected proxy fight for a seat on Microsoft's board from ValueAct, which obtained a $2 billion stake in company in April under speculation it was seeking to remove Ballmer. ValueAct claimed it wouldn't interfere with Microsoft's strategy, and AllThingsD claims the shareholder may scale back its demands if it gets "an aggressive buyback and also a dividend increase" from Microsoft.

Source: AllThingsD | Image via Microsoft

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