For investors hoping to see Steve Ballmer start to transition away from leading Microsoft after Windows 8 ships later this year, we have some bad news.Back in 2008, he said in a public speech that he wants to stay on until his youngest kid is in college, which would be 2017 or 2018.
But a person who has worked with Ballmer tells us that he only made that public statement after he told the same thing to other Microsoft executives at a company retreat. He was very clear that he’s not going anywhere any time soon.
Three years later, despite a rough patch of business in 2008 and 2009 and some calls from investors to step down, he has not changed his mind, says this person.
Ballmer serves at the pleasure of the board, but this person says he has the 100% trust of Bill Gates, and as long as Gates is chairman, he won’t ask Ballmer to leave. In turn, Ballmer still turns to Gates for advice on things like executive appointments — particularly evaluating good technical product leaders, which has been a big priority over the last year — and acquisitions.
This person is a fan of Ballmer, and says that his passion, integrity, and business sense are excellent — he really knows in detail the performance of every product group and sales team in the company, and his enthusiasm really is like that in private, too. But this person also worries that Ballmer lacks the vision to figure out which business areas to bet on for the long term.
Anyway, 2017 or 2018 is the year Ballmer will step down, at least according to Ballmer.