Steve Ballmer says ‘We changed the world’ in final shareholder letter

With Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer set to leave his post in the next 12 months, his final letter to shareholders was inevitably going to be a little different to those that went before.

Published Monday, the 770-word missive lacked the heartfelt emotion displayed at his farewell gig in September, though who knows, as he penned his thoughts on his company’s past successes, future plans, and ongoing move toward becoming a device and services business, he may well have been sobbing.

‘A thrilling experience.’

Ballmer said his time at the computer giant had been “a thrilling experience” with the company now in an ideal position “to deliver growth and world-changing technology long into the future.”

Fortunately for the shareholders – and for Ballmer – the CEO could pick out some fairly favorable financial figures for the last year, noting that revenue grew to $77.8 billion (up 6 percent), with $12.3 billion (up 15 percent) returned to shareholders through dividends and stock repurchases.

Of course, this was not the time to mention its recent failure to hit various financial targets – or its $900 million write-down on the Surface RT – though the boss did hint that there have been a few difficulties of late: “While we were able to grow revenue to a record level, our earnings results reflect investments as well as some of the challenges of undertaking a transformation of this magnitude.”

One of these investments includes the acquisition of Nokia for $7.2 billion last month, a takeover the CEO described as “a signature event in our transformation” that will serve to accelerate Windows Phone growth.

Ballmer said Microsoft had made “strong progress” in the early days of its move toward becoming a device and services company, and was well into implementing its new organizational structure to ensure workers have “one strategy and work as one team with one set of shared goals.”

‘We are well-positioned to deliver growth and world-changing technology long into the future.’

He added that he was “incredibly optimistic” about the future “as we bring to market Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets with our partners, Surface 2, Xbox One and new phones; advance our enterprise services including Windows Server, Windows Azure, Microsoft Dynamics and Office 365; and innovate on new high-value activities.”

“With the decisions we’ve made this year, the strategy we’ve put in place, the organization we’ve designed, the world-class talent we have, and the devices and services we are creating, we are well-positioned to deliver growth and world-changing technology long into the future,” Ballmer wrote.

He ended the letter: “Working at Microsoft has been a thrilling experience — we’ve changed the world and delivered record-setting success — and I know our best days are still ahead.”

With the Redmond-based company currently searching for a replacement, a specific date for Ballmer’s departure is yet to be decided.

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