The next CEO of
Ballmer's grand design - unveiled just six weeks before Friday's surprise announcement that he would retire within a year - calls for 'One Microsoft' to pull together and forge a future based on hardware and cloud-based services.
But poor sales of the new Surface tablet, on top of
For years, investors have called on
In the last two years alone,
For now at least,
The eventual choice of that committee - which has given itself a year to do its work - should provide a clue to how committed the board really is, and how open to outside advice.
"Taking an internal candidate like
"But a strong case could be made that the company needs a breath of fresh air, someone who can execute on the strategy but also bring an outsider perspective," he added.
That could mean selling the Xbox and abandoning Bing, or cutting short efforts to make tablets or other computers.
SHAREHOLDERS CLAMOUR FOR MONEY, BALLMER'S HEAD
Throughout the last decade, as
But shareholders still want a bigger slice of
"The momentum of shareholder activism is well underway and likely to benefit shareholders even though the process of how this unfolds is not certain," said Sherlund.
The lackluster performance of
Yet Ballmer - who owns just under 4 percent of the company - never showed any doubts about his intention to stay in the job. His old friend and ally
The first public signs of dissent on
It was around that time, though not necessarily connected, that the board started considering how it would manage a succession, according to a source familiar with the matter. Ballmer and the board began talking to both internal and external candidates.
About 18 months to two years ago, Ballmer started thinking seriously about a succession plan, the internal source said.
The time since was not marked with glory for Ballmer, with a tepid launch of Windows 8, the disappointment of the Surface tablet, and a
Two to three months ago, Ballmer started thinking seriously about his retirement and concluded it was the "right time to start the process," the source said. That was shortly after ValueAct took a
July's gloomy earnings, which offered no immediate hope of quick improvement, may have sealed the decision. Ballmer said Friday he made the choice in the few days prior, and informed the board on Wednesday. Whether the board urged Ballmer to leave is not known.
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