Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to focus on The Clippers

Steven Loeb · August 19, 2014 · Short URL:

Steve Ballmer steps down from the Microsoft board of directors and rallies a new community

Steve Ballmer knows how to entertain and rally a crowd. His stage presence is larger than life. Now being in front of Clippers' fans all the time may be what he's best suited for.

In a letter to new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, which was made public on Tuesday, the former CEO explained his reasons for leaving the board of the company. Microsoft had been his "life's work, he said, and, as such, he had not really given any thought to what he was going to do once he retired as CEO. In the last six months, though, "I have become very busy," citing a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time."

When Ballmer announced, just under a year ago, that he was going to be retiring from his 13-year post as CEO of Microsoft, most of us probably pictured him staying on in a sort of Bill Gates-type role; he would probably stay on as head of the board, but leave day to day operations to do something else with his time.

Then came the whole Donald Sterling fiasco, and Ballmer's surprising $2 billion acquisition of the Los Angeles Clippers, a deal which closed last week. Perhaps being the owner of an NBA-team is more work than one would think, because Ballmer has now announced that he is stepping down from the board of directors at Microsoft to put all of his focus on his new endeavor.   

More than that, though, he seemed content to be leaving Microsoft in Nadella's hands. Nadella officially took over as CEO in February, becoming the third person to ever hold that position, following Bill Gates and then Ballmer. 

"There are challenges ahead but the opportunities are even larger. No company in the world has the mix of software skills, cloud skills, and hardware skills we have assembled. We draw talent as well as any company in the world. We have the profitability to invest in long-term opportunities and still deliver superior shorter term performance. You’re off to a bold and exciting start," Ballmer wrote.

"I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms and productivity and the building of capability in devices and services as core business drivers."

In response to Ballmer's resignation letter, Nadella wrote that, while Ballmer's "insights and leadership" would be "greatly missed as part of the board," he also accepted and supported what Ballmer had chosen to do.

"As you embark on your new journey, I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft, and we wish you incredible success."

While Ballmer will hold no officially position at Microsoft going forward, he will still have a part to play in the company. As he pointed out, the man does "hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds."

"I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future," he said. 

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