Microsoft on Friday announced that Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer has decided to retire as CEO and will step down within the next 12 months.
Ballmer will continue to serve as CEO until his successor is selected, the company said.
Wall Street is cheering the news, as shares of Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) are trading up nearly 9 percent in pre-market trading on Friday.
Ballmer, 57, joined Microsoft in 1980 as the company’s 30th employee, and was eventually named CEO in January of 2000, while founder Bill Gates remained chairman of the board.
“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “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.”
The Board of Directors has appointed a special committee to direct the process, the software giant said.
Executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles will be conducting the search for the next CEO and will consider both external and internal candidates.
“The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company,” Thompson said. “As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company’s senior leadership team to chart the company’s course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry.”
“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,” said Gates. “We’re fortunate to have Steve in his role until the new CEO assumes these duties.”