Social media sends Ballmer off with a bang

Reaction to news of Microsoft CEO's forthcoming retirement unsurprisingly noisy, contentious.

Steve Ballmer

Credit: Flickr/D. Begley. CC Licensed

The Internet reacted to the news that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer plans to retire within 12 months as might have been expected – with a flurry of jeers, opprobrium and the occasional heartfelt farewell.

“Retirement! Retirement, retirement, retirement!” japed redditor trataka, in reference to one of Ballmer's well-known performances at a Microsoft conference.

Fellow reddit user foxmccloudpsu went with “I see you're trying to find a new CEO. Can I help you with that?” and Arizhel bemoaned the loss of Ballmer's influence at Microsoft - “I'm not happy at all. Ballmer needs to stay in charge; he's doing an excellent job of running MS into the ground. I do not want this trainwreck to end.”

[MAIN STORY: Microsoft CEO Ballmer to retire in 12 months]

Much of the reaction on Twitter, by contrast, was surprisingly measured, with much made of the fact that Microsoft's stock price jumped by about 9% following the announcement. Register writer Iain Thomson said that “has got to be more than a little embarrassing.”

Journalist Ed Bott joked that “mainstream support for Steve Ballmer ended in 2009. Extended support ends in 2014,” while a spoof account for tech evangelist Jeff Jarvis snarked “what Microsoft needs is a CEO who thinks big, like Elon Musk.”

Snide comments were unsurprisingly rife on Google Plus as well. Blogger Patrick Jordan weighed in with “I'm sure he's going to be a business school study, for all the wrong reasons.” 

Well-known Rackspace startup liaison officer Robert Scoble, as part of a lengthy open letter to Microsoft's board, said that Microsoft under Ballmer “is like that super smart kid who is doing drugs and not living up to its potential.”

Pocket Labs' Gary Royal dug all the way back to antiquity for his zinger, saying that Microsoft's board “no doubt plans to install a Caligula to make Ballmer's Tiberius seem sane, tolerant and kind by comparison.”

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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