Ballmer will step down once a successor has been found to lead the company, which just last month announced a new “One Microsoft” strategy designed to ensure the way its different products and services are developed and marketed becomes more aligned.
Microsoft’s board of directors has appointed a special committee to appoint Ballmer’s successor, which comprises the board’s lead independent director John Thompson, founder and chairman Bill Gates and other board members Steve Luczo and Chuck Noski.
The company says it will consider both internal and external candidates for the role. The new CEO will be responsible for challenging the dominance of Apple and Google in the mobile computing sector, an area where Microsoft has struggled to keep up to speed.
Ballmer says: “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time.
“We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organisation 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.”
Microsoft’s share price jumped 9 per cent on the news of Ballmer’s departure in after hours trading. Its share price was up 6 per cent to $34.34 at the time of writing.