Bombshell from Microsoft: Ballmer to Leave Company Within 12 Months as New CEO Sought Bloomberg

"[Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer, 57, plans to step down within 12 months, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft said today in a statement," reports Bloomberg.

The story continues, "The company’s lead independent director, John Thompson, will oversee the search for his successor, heading a committee that will also include Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. Investors applauded the move, sending the shares up as much as 8.7 percent to the highest intraday price since 2009.

"Ballmer’s move reflects the changes roiling the computing industry his company helped pioneer. Microsoft, which supplies the software running most PCs, lost almost half its value on Ballmer’s watch. The stock hasn’t closed above $50 since his first year on the job amid competition from Google, Apple and Facebook in everything from tablets to the Web."

Ballmer became Microsoft's CEO when Bill Gates left the company in 2000. Various media reports says Gates in not a candidate to return to replace Ballmer.

Bloomberg also notes, "Microsoft last month reported quarterly profits and sales that missed analysts’ estimates. The company’s latest computing operating system, Windows 8, also hasn’t spurred the comeback that Ballmer was aiming for. In April, activist investor ValueAct Holdings LP disclosed a stake of about $1.9 billion in Microsoft, pushing the software maker to consider giving the shareholder a board seat.

“ '[Ballmer's] become a lightning rod for frustration over Microsoft’s lack of progress in mobile and Windows 8,' said Richard Williams, an analyst at Cross Research in Millburn, New Jersey."

steve ballmer.jpgSteve Ballmer