Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to retire within 12 months

by: KIRO 7 STAFF AND NEWS SERVICES Updated:

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Microsoft announced Friday that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months, upon the completion of a process to choose his successor.

>>> Linzi Sheldon is looking into Ballmer's career at Microsoft, what prompted his retirement and what will happen next at the company. Watch her report at 4 p.m. Friday on KIRO 7 Eyewitness News.

In the meantime, a company statement said "Ballmer will continue as CEO and will lead Microsoft through the next steps of its transformation to a devices and services company that empowers people for the activities they value most."

Microsoft Corp.'s stock shot up 9 percent in premarket trading following the news.

"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said in statement. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team. 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. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

In a tweet Friday, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said he wished Ballmer all the best and that he was sure Microsoft would "do everything possible to find the right CEO to lead the (company) forward."

Microsoft said the Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process. This committee is chaired by John Thompson, the board’s lead independent director, and includes Chairman of the Board Bill Gates, Chairman of the Audit Committee Chuck Noski and Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo.

Both internal and external candidates are being considered.

“As a member of the succession planning committee, I’ll work closely with the other members of the board to identify a great new CEO,” Gates said in a statement. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”

Ballmer, 57, first met Microsoft founder Bill Gates in 1973 while they were living down a dormitory hall from each other at Harvard University. He joined Microsoft in 1980 to bring some business discipline and salesmanship to a company that had just landed a contract to supply an operating system for a personal computer that IBM would release in 1981.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.

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