Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced Tuesday that he was quitting the company's board of directors, effective immediately. In a letter to new CEO Satya Nadella published by Microsoft, and reprinted below, Mr. Ballmer said he was leaving the board because he saw, "a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time."
Steve Ballmer, Clippers Owner
Mr. Ballmer's letter largely serves as an endorsement for change at Microsoft, and there are times when one could read it as saying that Mr. Nadella needs a board fully committed to that change. The implication could be that Mr. Ballmer isn't the best instrument for achieving monumental changes—if so, it's a big admission for a man who says in the same letter that he bleeds Microsoft and "always will."
"Microsoft will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment," Mr. Ballmer wrote. "Making that change while also managing the existing software business well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has. Our board must also support and encourage that fearlessness for shareholders to get the best performance from Microsoft. You must drive that."
In another passage, he also makes it clear that he simply doesn't have enough time to focus on Microsoft's board, saying:
Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately.
In a related note, Mr. Ballmer recently addressed fans of the L.A. Clippers, the Los Angeles NBA team he recently purchased from Donald Sterling for US$2 billion. There's a video of that address, where Mr. Ballmers's infamously exuberant rallying style seems far more at home than it did at, say, a developer conference.
Mr. Ballmer also stipulated that he would be holding his vast stake in Microsoft for the "foreseeable future." The former CEO owns some 300 million shares of the company, a roughly 4 percent stake worth more than $13 billion as of this writing.
Shares of Microsoft ended the day higher at $45.33, a gain of $0.500 (+1.12 percent), on moderate volume.
Next: Steve Ballmer's Resignation Letter in Full