Microsoft has now announced that it's CEO, Steve Ballmer, will be retiring in 12 months. The world's largest software company has now created a special committee to find a replacement. And yes, Microsoft's founder, Bill Gates, is on it as well.
In response to the news, investors cheered, pushing Microsoft's shares up 7% on Friday. The reason is simple. When Ballmer took control of the company from Bill Gates back in 2000, Microsoft was a Tech Titan, leading the process of innovation in every possible field and direction. In simple worlds, it was the undisputed leader of the tech world. However, today it is anything but that. The company's value has been trimmed by a little over 40% during Ballmer's tenure, according to ET.
Stock prices have slumped over the years and Microsoft is slowly loosing its ground to its competitors. The company has been severely criticized by investors for not moving fast enough to capture a solid market share in the mobile business the way Apple and Google have.
The announcement comes in the middle of a very challenging time since the tech environment is taking a turn to a new direction. Over the last two years, Microsoft has been struggling to stay relevant in the minds of consumers as they have started ditching desktops for tablets and mobile devices. The company has tried to take on Google and Apple with a string of measures, all of which have failed miserably. It has tried to build it own tablet, mobile operating system and has also tried to renew focus on certain cloud computing products like Office 365 and Azure. The results have been anything but good.
Take Windows 8, the OS that was built to revive the computing market. It failed badly owing to some of the product and usability decisions made by Microsoft. Even its Mobile OS, Windows Phone 8, has managed to capture only 5 percent of the market share, owing to a slow update cycle and a lack of relevant apps. One of its biggest failures in recent years was when the company tried to enter the consumer market with a hardware device, the Surface tablet. The move angered long time partners like Asus and Acer and failed to gain any traction in the market. During the last quarter, Microsoft announced that it was going to take a 900 million dollar beating owing to unsold Surface tablets.
Experts and several former Microsoft employees have often said that Ballmer's time at Microsoft was coming to an end. Former Executive, Joachim Kempin, even wrote in his book that the company needed someone younger to take the reins as Ballmer was out of touch with the tech world.