Bill Gates was close to tears today while discussing the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) search for a new CEO and the departure of long time friend Steve Ballmer from the position. The chairman of the company’s board was speaking at the company’s annual shareholder meeting today.

bill gates microsoft

That meeting may be emotionally charged for Bill Gates. The former head of the company is expected to be one of the people reviewing the list of candidates for CEO behind closed doors at the shareholder gathering. Gates is seeing Steve Ballmer, one of the original members of the Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) team, forced out at the company he founded.

Bill Gates holds back tears

Bill Gates was visibly upset as he spoke about the history of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) in front of the crowd at the meeting. He and Ballmer are the only two people who have held the role of CEO at Microsoft, and their long standing collaboration with each other has described the company’s path for more than 30 years.

Bill Gates brought attention to the connection between him and Ballmer in his speech, “We’ve got a commitment to make sure the next CEO is the right person for right time for the company we both love.” It’s clear that Gates recognizes the current CEO search as the end of an era, but investors would probably prefer the head of the company’s board didn’t dwell in sentimentality.

Microsoft CEO search

Rumors about the likely next CEO of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are still vague and unsubstantiated, but they appear to be taking some kind of coherent form. Ford Motor Company CEO Alan Mulally appears to be the front runner to take position as the chief executive. His tenure at the firm may be short, however, and he may be made groom his replacement while in office.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has a very powerful board. The company’s directors are well able to steer it through the current problems. and through the transition to a new CEO. Gates may be instrumental in that transition, but it doesn’t meant the change won’t be emotional for him.