Ballmer hints he may step down from Microsoft board
'I have the luxury ... to figure out what might be fun,' he said three weeks ago
Computerworld - Microsoft's former CEO, Steve Ballmer, hinted that he may soon step down from the company's board, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.
"It really as much as anything depends on how I see the rest of my life playing out," Ballmer told the publication (subscription required), referring to his plans for remaining on the board of directors.
Ballmer, 58, said in the interview that after nearly 34 years with Microsoft, "I have a chance to really think" about what's next.
And Ballmer, unlike most people, has options. He is currently the second-largest individual Microsoft shareholder, owning about 4% of the company's shares. Co-founder Bill Gates still holds the top spot, but he has been selling approximately 80 million shares annually, and assuming that continues, will slide into second place behind Ballmer during the June quarter.
Ballmer's Microsoft holdings were worth about $13.3 billion at Monday's early price.
Ballmer was reelected to Microsoft's board last year -- directors there face reelection annually -- but his presence, as well as Gates', has been a concern for investors, who believe that new CEO Satya Nadella will be constrained with the two former chief executives looking over his shoulder.
If Ballmer does step down, those worries would be alleviated.
Gates left the chairmanship of the board last month when Nadella was appointed, and was replaced by John Thompson, a former IBM and Symantec executive. Gates committed to working part-time at Microsoft as an advisor to Nadella on product and technology issues. Gates retained his seat on the board, however.
Ballmer's comments to the Wall Street Journal gibed with those he made at his first public appearance since he stepped down as CEO. At that event three weeks ago, hosted by the Said Business School, University of Oxford, Ballmer said, "I get to find some new set of things to be passionate about. I get the luxury of really trying to figure out what might be fun to make a difference in the world. And I don't want to default to something that's obvious, so I'm gonna take some time and really figure it out, and say 'What will be the thing that will switch me on from age 58 to age 70?'"
But even if he does leave the board, Ballmer said he would continue to closely follow the company. "I own 4% of Microsoft. I care a lot about my child [emphasis in original]. And my investment."
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His email address is email@example.com.
- Chinese officials seize Microsoft PCs, emails, financial info in antitrust probe
- Chinese regulators target Microsoft for office visits
- Layoffs cool Microsoft employees' opinion of CEO Satya Nadella
- How Microsoft's CEO sees growth for Windows Phone and Lumia
- Microsoft wants you to forget Windows 8
- Microsoft again writes off Surface inventory, renews profitability doubts
- 'Nadella Effect' makes Ballmer $2.8B richer
- Microsoft reveals bankruptcy of devices strategy by dumping Nokia feature phones
- Microsoft may drag out layoffs for a year
- Surface survives Microsoft cuts, but tablet strategy remains muddled
Read more about IT Leadership in Computerworld's IT Leadership Topic Center.
- The Social Business: Unlocking the collective knowledge of people Five years ago, IBM observed the planet was becoming instrumented, interconnected and intelligent. 20,000 engagements later, here's what we know and believe about...
- Market Overview: Digital Customer Experience Delivery Platforms Forrester states that businesses today struggle to understand and use the tools necessary to create and manage unified, multichannel digital customer experiences across...
- Enabling Unified Service Delivery Management With the nGeniusONE Platform Today's IT organizations manage diverse business services comprising a host of applications running on many server farms within the data center.
- Transform Your Data Center from Basic to Strategic by Increasing Operational Efficiency and Optimizing Intelligence Find out how data center and facilities management are able to use DCIM solutions and a pioneering "zone" approach to bridge the information...
- On-demand webinar - 7 Keys to Service Catalog Implementation Success Watch this webinar to learn 7 crucial keys to make your service catalog a success!
- Zoning in on Energy and Physical Infrastructure Management In this Webcast you will learn how to develop and execute a strategy to optimize the energy efficiency of your data center. All IT Leadership White Papers | Webcasts