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8/19/2014
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Steve Ballmer Resigns From Microsoft Board

Former Microsoft CEO -- and newly minted LA Clippers owner -- Steve Ballmer steps down from the board but will remain Microsoft's largest individual shareholder.

After Ballmer: 8 Execs You Love To Hate
After Ballmer: 8 Execs You Love To Hate
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Six months after stepping down as Microsoft CEO and a day after firing up fans as the new owner of the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, Steve Ballmer resigned from the Microsoft board. He announced the news Tuesday in a letter to CEO Satya Nadella that was subsequently posted to Microsoft's website.

Ballmer said his commitments to the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching, and studying will leave too little time to remain a board member. That said, he won't be leaving Microsoft entirely.

"I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and I love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future," he wrote. Later, he reiterated, "I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can."

[Is Microsoft's "modern" Windows experiment about to end? Read Windows 8.1: 8 Things I Hate About You.]

Given that he spent a record $2 billion to acquire the Clippers, Ballmer's realigned priorities aren't necessarily surprising. On his way out, he complimented his successor's progress, writing that Nadella is "off to a bold and exciting start." Elsewhere in the letter, Ballmer adopted the voice of an elder statesman; after explaining that Microsoft must move to new cloud-oriented profit models while managing current customers, he told Nadella, "You must drive that."

In a response letter, which Microsoft also posted online, Nadella congratulated Ballmer for his successes at the company, wished him well in his new ventures, and said, "I also look forward to partnering with you as a shareholder."

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the Windows Phone 8 launch in October 2012.
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer speaks at the Windows Phone 8 launch in October 2012.

It remains to be seen if Ballmer's departure materially affects Microsoft's strategy. In an interview, Forrester analyst David Johnson said that Nadella's "been doing a pretty good job" leading the company, and that he and his colleagues haven't seen a reason to focus on Ballmer's influence as a board member. The fact that Ballmer's gone, in other words, won't necessarily rock any boats.

"I didn't expect Ballmer to step down from the board this quickly," Johnson said.

Ballmer's relationship with investors and customers was sometimes rocky, especially after Windows 8 and Microsoft's Surface tablets failed to generate sales. But he's off to a good start with his newest constituency: Clippers fans, who gave Ballmer a warm welcome at a rally Monday in Los Angeles. Granted, former owner Donald Sterling's tenure was characterized not only by the racism scandal that ultimately led to his banishment from the league, but also by decades of incompetent, financially stingy management. After all that, fans probably would have cheered any change in leadership.

Still, Ballmer likely would have won fans' support even without the soap opera backdrop. At Monday's event, he drew applause by channeling all of the bombast and enthusiasm that he used to display during Microsoft keynotes.

"We're going to be hardcore. HAAAAARDCORE!" he bellowed at one point. "Something knocks us down, we're going to get back up and keep coming and coming and coming and coming. Did you watch these guys? That was hardcore! HARDCORE, baby! Nothing gets in our way. BOOM! Keep coming. HAAAARDCORE! The hardcore Clippers. That's us."

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 2:27:48 PM
Re: The New ( Age ) American Success Story
@SaneIT: I have similar views as well. The man worked hard for more than a decade and his graph has always been shaky, but he has always jazzed past the shortcomings of his time as a CEO and has made clever decisions. It is his time to enjoy his current status as a Clippers owner. A $2 billion dollar bid to acquire the same, that is amazing.
SunitaT0
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SunitaT0,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 2:25:21 PM
Re: Growth and change
Maybe a welcome change for Microsoft especially since Nadella is pushing Cloud based development forward, however, the success of Nadella over Ballmer would only be seen after sometime. Nadella earlier held the coveted positions of (1) Senior Vice-President of Research and Development for the Online Services Division and (2) Corporate Vice-President of Business Solutions and Search & Advertising Platform Group. Obviously he was a calculated choice as a CEO.
impactnow
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impactnow,
User Rank: Ninja
8/22/2014 | 2:21:04 PM
Growth and change
I think it's the right decision, sometimes it's very hard for a new CEO to really make change if he is still under the old management style via the board alumni. Hopefully this will give Microsoft a chance to become a leader again in technology and create a new value proposition for its suite and leverage its base. Hopefully Mr. Ballmer will also be able to move forward with the next phase of his career.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/22/2014 | 7:33:11 AM
Re: The New ( Age ) American Success Story
@Technocrati, honestly this is the way it should be, he built himself a fortune now it's time to enjoy it.  I don't know that I'd buy a basketball team but I like to think that if I got to that level that I wouldn't stay there until I burned out or went down in flames.  I'd want to chase down some passions and live out some dreams which is what it sounds like Balmer is doing.  I also get the feeling he'll be treated better by the Clippers fans than he was Clippy's haters.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2014 | 10:08:37 PM
Re: Something more to this story?

@jastroff    From what I understand he still hold his shares and he will have just as much influence as he wants I would believe - Without question.

Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2014 | 10:03:23 PM
Re: The New ( Age ) American Success Story

@SaneIT    I agree.  There are many reasons one with his wherewithal would make such a move.   It really was a opportunity of a lifetime.   Literally a once in a generation ( Maybe ) opportunity.   Because when you own a cash cow like a Sports team in Los Angeles you never give it up !  

I have been privy to the local interviews he did recently after buying the team, that is the only reason I knew about the "not being good enough to make the team as a kid " slant.   I think we all can relate to that in one way or another - and anyone who has even a bit of fire in their belly carries these things with them throughout life.

So when you get a chance to "remake the ending" - IMO you take it every time.   He might in the end be more interesting than the Clippers themselves.    So I am going to live precarious through him !  :  )  

If I had 2 bil. laying around I would have done the same thing.

jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2014 | 10:10:33 AM
Re: Something more to this story?
>> Did he really exit voluntarily? Hard to believe somehow.

 

It's VERY hard to believe given company performance and its perception in the marketplace
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
8/21/2014 | 7:29:39 AM
Re: The New ( Age ) American Success Story
When I heard that he was buying the Clippers I had a feeling as if he is chasing a larger passion.  I don't follow his personal life but what you're saying about him being involved in his son's teams and his activity I think this is a way for him to stay fresh and motivated.  I love what I do in the IT field but if something opened up that I could do as well (or maybe better) in an athletic arena I would go for it.  Sometimes people just have to chase their passions and I think that's what Ballmer is doing here, blending his leadership with a love for sports.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
8/20/2014 | 7:15:48 PM
Re: The New ( Age ) American Success Story

Thanks for the email address Michael !   I see your point, between the filters and the assistants the chance is relatively low that he will actually read it but he might - so here's my chance !  : )   

He might rue the day he let it out if things go south for the Clippers but I thought it was a nice jester to the fan base,  A new day of openness and transparency  in L.A. ?  

 I hope so.  The city could use a good example of civil involvement.   

PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
8/20/2014 | 4:54:11 PM
Re: Go Steve
I think Microsoft needed a change in direction.  Many companies have innovated and beat micrsoft in various areas were they were the dominant player.  it time for them to change rapidly and try to catch up.  In other cases, they may be able to becoming dominant once again. 
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