August 23, 2013, 12:57 PM

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announces plans to retire within a year

His departure comes amid the company’s transition to a focus on devices and services.

Lead Photo

Steve Ballmer; image used with permission of Microsoft

Microsoft Corp.’s CEO Steve Ballmer today announced he plans to retire within the next 12 months, as soon as the software company finds a successor.

The news comes as Microsoft  seeks to put a greater emphasis on expanding beyond selling software to developing and marketing devices and services, a plan  Ballmer outlined in his 2012 annual letter to shareholders. The company is now developing new Windows PCs, tablets and smartphones with built-in services, such as Microsoft Office or Xbox apps, for entertainment, communication, productivity and other consumer needs.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer writes in an e-mail sent to Microsoft employees today. “We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”

Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 as its first business manager, the company says. He took over as CEO in 2000.

A committee including Ballmer, Microsoft founder and chairman Bill Gates and other members of the board will lead the search for the company’s next CEO, Microsoft says. They are also working with a recruitment firm, Heidrick & Struggles International Inc., and say they will consider candidates from both inside and outside of the company.

22 retailers in the 2013 Top 500 Guide say Microsoft provides their e-commerce platform; 11 use the company for order management; seven for customer relationship management technology; five for fulfillment; four for site search; three for web analytics; and one each for web performance monitoring, search engine marketing and international services.

Clicks on paid search advertising on Microsoft's Bing search engine were up 12.9% year over year in the second quarter, compared to a 4.1% year-over-year increase on Google Inc.'s search engine, says online marketing firm The Search Agency. 

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