Ballmer planned succession for 3 years

Michael Carroll
26 Aug 2013

Microsoft may already have decided who will succeed chief executive Steve Ballmer when he steps down sometime in the next 12 months.

The chief executive last week revealed he will leave the company within a year, and has called on the board to establish a succession plan for his replacement. The announcement saw Microsoft’s share price surge and speculation on who will replace Ballmer – one report even suggested Bill Gates might be approached.

However, a company source suggests the shortlist may already have been drawn up, telling Bloomberg the current boss has been discussing his departure for the past three years. Ballmer reportedly suggested suitable internal candidates to the board during those initial meetings, and followed up in the past four months with a call for the board to examine potential succession plans.

Ballmer alludes to the meetings in Microsoft’s announcement of his departure. “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,” he notes, adding. “We need a CEO will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Microsoft is struggling to make headway in the mobile device market, where it is vying with RIM for third place in terms of shipments by operating system, but still lags market leaders Samsung and Apple by some margin in terms of device shipments.

The vendor’s overall operating income fell 24% year on year in the three months to end-June – Microsoft’s fiscal 4Q13 – despite a modest rise in revenue.

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