Though a statement by Microsoft suggested the forthcoming retirement of Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has been in consideration for some time, a new report says the reality is Ballmer did not intend to leave the company so soon.
The announcement of Ballmer's retirement last week was "neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed," sources indicated to Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. Ballmer was said to be excited in recent weeks over a company-wide restructuring, but in meetings after the announcement of his retirement, he became "uncharacteristically chastened and quiet."
Said to be a critical factor in the decision is the likelihood that activist investor ValueAct could obtain a seat on Microsoft's board. ValueAct has called for a number of changes at the company, including the ouster of Ballmer.
In addition, Microsoft's outgoing CEO is said to have lost the kind of steadfast support he had historically received from former CEO Bill Gates. While Gates didn't "instigate" Ballmer's retirement, he wasn't as much of an advocate as he had been in the past, one source suggested.
Ballmer shocked the tech world last Friday when he announced he would end his 13-year reign over Microsoft. The CEO plans to retire within the next 12 months, once his successor has been chosen.
Microsoft has been routinely criticized for failing to adapt to changes in the tech sector while under the watch of Ballmer. In particular, Microsoft's previously strong stake in smartphones was taken by Apple's iPhone and devices running Google Android, while PC sales have been significantly affected by Apple's iPad.
In an effort to counter the successes seen by Apple in recent years, Ballmer announced a major realignment of Microsoft in July. The sweeping company-wide restructuring plan is focused on positioning Microsoft has a devices and services company, which Ballmer said at the time would enable it to "innovate with greater speed, efficiency and capability."
Whoever replaces Ballmer will inherit a company under the "One Microsoft" realignment that views the company's product lineup "holistically, not as a set of islands." Ballmer said that the new Microsoft structure will allow "a more coherent message and family of product offerings."
Microsoft's shakeup is the latest major restructuring to hit the tech industry. Google announced its own organization changes in March splitting up the company's mapping and commerce unit, while iOS chief Scott Forstall was ousted from Apple late last year, placing lead designer Jony Ive in charge of the company's mobile operating system.