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

steve ballmer final shareholder letter balmer

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.

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‘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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Report: Microsoft may name Satya Nadella as CEO, Gates out as chairman
report microsoft may name satya nadella ceo gates chairman

Update 1:46 p.m. ET:  Satya Nadella is in contract talks with Microsoft, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Detailed within a report released by Bloomberg earlier today, Microsoft's enterprise and cloud chief Satya Nadella will likely be the next CEO of the software company. Nadella has been on a short list of potential candidates for the last several months, but it appears as if Microsoft's board is prepared to offer Nadella the job. While the plans aren't final according to people involved in the selection process, an official announcement of Nadella as CEO would end a five month search process that originally started with more than 100 potential candidates.
In addition to Nadella as CEO, insiders have indicated that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is considering stepping down from the Chairman position and shift into more of a part-time role within Microsoft. Much of Gates attention has been turned to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation over the past several years as well as other philanthropic ventures. Bloomberg sources have also indicated that Microsoft lead independent director John Thompson is being considered to take over the Chairman position after Gates steps down.

Assuming the report is accurate, 46-year-old Nadella would, of course, replace 57-year-old Steve Ballmer by August 2014. While investors will likely be wary about any new CEO, MIT professor Michael Cusumano believes Nadella is a good choice for the position. Specifically, Cusumano said "Microsoft is a contentious enough place that you wouldn't want to bring in someone who lacked credibility with the engineers."
Working at Microsoft since 1992, Nadella headed up the Cloud OS platform that powers Microsoft's clouds services that include Office 365, Xbox Live, Bing, SkyDrive and Skype. Regarding his education, Nadella received "a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Mangalore University, a master's degree in computer science from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago" according to Microsoft's employee profile page.

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Picture proof that Microsoft is going to be boring without Steve Ballmer
picture proof that microsoft will be boring without steve ballmer tongue 3

On Friday, Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's CEO for 13 years now, announced his plan to retire from the company within 12 months. It came as a shock to all of us, and some might argue that Ballmer's departure comes earlier than even the CEO himself originally had planned. It's no secret that Ballmer's tenure has received a great deal of negative feedback, with some outlets flat out saying he failed.
Ballmer is leaving during a time of uneasiness. The world has yet to accept Windows 8 as the next greatest operating system. Microsoft's first foray into hardware with the Surface tablet quickly flopped. And don't even get us started on Windows RT. Ballmer is not leaving the company in a better place than when he took over from Bill Gates 13 years ago. 
Still, with all that said, when we heard Ballmer was going to be leaving his position as Microsoft's CEO, we couldn't help but feel a twinge of sadness. No, it wasn't because we had hope for Ballmer and thought, with just a little more time, he could really turn the company around. No, it's because of Ballmer's crazy antics that we love to ogle over (and then re-watch for years to come when we're having a bad day). 
Though we highly suggest checking out some of Ballmer's best moments caught on tape (seriously, if you haven't seen the Get On Your Feet video, or the Developers video, stop what you're doing and watch these now), we thought that the year leading up to Ballmer's departure should be filled with as much Ballmer as possible. That's why we pulled together 12 of our favorite Ballmer expressions for you to look at year round. You can even print these photos and make a Ballmer 2014 calendar out of them. Here's some of our favorites.
1. What better way to start a Ballmer calendar than with a dramatic operatic pose?
(Photo via CultofMac)
2. "I have never, honestly, thrown a chair in my life," Ballmer said in a 2005 interview with CNET. Has that changed in the last eight years? We don't know for sure. 

3. Print this one and tape it on your cubicle. Even if you're not a developer, you'll be inspired by Ballmer's enthusiasm. Taken from one of his most memorable moments at his presentation at Microsoft's 25th Anniversary event in September 2000, Ballmer, awkwardly sweaty, chanted the words "developers" over and over on stage. Unfortunately for Ballmer, that video was uploaded to YouTube and spread like wildfire. Also unfortunate, this was one of his first, and sweatiest, moments in the spotlight as Microsoft's CEO. 
 4. This is one CEO who likes to use a lot of hand gestures, as you'll see in the following photos. At the Web 2.0 Summit in 2011, Ballmer said you don't have to be a computer scientist to use a Windows Phone, but you do to use a Android phone. Agree to disagree. 
(Photo via Justin Sullivan, Getty Images)
5. Remember Windows Vista? Ay, fuhgeddaboudit! 

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Was Steve Ballmer’s resignation more sudden than Microsoft claims?
microsoft plans oak trail tablets for 2011 steve ballmer financial analyist meeting july 2010

Friday's news of Steve Ballmer's departure as Microsoft's CEO came as a shock to all of us. In a press release, Microsoft made it seem like everything would be okay. And, we have to hand it to whoever wrote Microsoft's memo that day, because it sure pulled the wool over our eyes in thinking that this was a well thought-out plan on behalf of Ballmer and the rest of the board. According to AllThingsD, however, it looks like Ballmer's resignation was "neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed." 
Sources close to Microsoft told AllThingsD that Ballmer's leaving was more sudden than the company depicted. Microsoft's press release stated that the CEO would leave within 12 months after helping find a replacement to help smooth the transition. However, there's speculation that Ballmer actually didn't plan to leave this soon. By examining the CEO's own internal e-mail, which was published publicly on Friday, we start to see hints that indicate the departure is coming sooner than many, including Ballmer, originally planned.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in his e-mail. "My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most." Here, Ballmer mentions his original plan to leave in the middle of the transformation – not at the beginning. 
AllThingD's sources said Ballmer's date had been moved up by the CEO himself, and then by the nine-member board (including Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates), who all agreed it was best for his departure to come as soon as possible. With that in mind, is it possible that Ballmer's 12-month window will actually be much shorter than Microsoft's letting on? 
Another major issue in question is whether Ballmer's zippy resignation was due in part to Gates himself, who, though has backed Ballmer many times in the past, may have had a change of heart. Though Ballmer and Gates worked closely for decades, Ballmer's e-mail had no mention of Gates. Does this suggest a split between the two? It seems strange for Ballmer not to have any mention of Gates in this type of letter. As for Gates, he did mention Ballmer in a statement in Microsoft's announcement, though it wasn't in any sort of positive or friendly way. “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. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”
That's a little harsh for someone Gates has been working with for several decades – since almost the beginning of Microsoft, actually. We do agree with AllThingsD that the way Ballmer's and Microsoft's e-mail and press release were written, respectively, suggest the departure came on a little sooner than originally planned. What do you think? Let us know in the comments below. 

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