After the departure of Bill Gates as CEO of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Mr. Ballmer was called on to “replace” him. Following his departure, it turned out that Mr. Ballmer was a bit of a boardroom sociopath and screamer. That’s not to call him a Donald Sterling, the former Los Angeles Clippers owner that was banned from basketball for life by new commissioner Adam Silver earlier this year. Ballmer, however, did purchase the Clippers in a $2 billion deal that was given final approval last week and was cited in Ballmer’s resignation lettter to current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
Resignation letter and response
“I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off,” Ballmer wrote. “I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” he wrote. Mr. Ballmer completed his purchase of the Clippers on Aug. 12.
That letter was published today on the Microsoft website. In response, Satya Nadella wrote “While your insights and leadership will be greatly missed as part of the board, I understand and support your decision.”
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Ballmer believed the time was right given the Clippers’ deal being finalized and the fact that Microsoft is currently putting materials together for release to shareholders ahead of the fall meeting. Presumably, shareholders will be asked to elect a new member to the board in addition to re-electing others when the meeting is held.
Microsoft’s new look board
Microsoft’s board has taken new shape in recent months with John Thompson taking over as chairman after Bill Gates stepped down from the position. Additionally, the company added a seat for a shareholder representative of ValueAct Capital Management LP. The latter was the first time in the near 40-year history of the company that it appointed a director at the direction of an outside stakeholder.
The CEO search that ultimately decided Satya Nadella was the man for the job may have gone differently had Ballmer announced his decision to step away from the board earlier. Various reports suggest that a number of candidates expressed their misgivings about both Gates and Ballmer staying on the board after holding the CEO position.
In his letter, Ballmer promised to continue trying out new Microsoft products, and for better or worse he told the company to “Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing.”