Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has broken another tie with the company, stepping down from the company’s board of directors effective immediately.
Ballmer says in an email to CEO Satya Nadella that he’s too busy with his new ownership of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, teaching, study and civic contributions to carry on. “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,” he writes.
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“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.”
While he won’t have any corporate responsibilities, he remains the individual with the most shares of Microsoft stock and he plans to keep it that way. “I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future,” he writes.
Ballmer earlier this week was introduced to Clipper fans at a rally, demonstrating his trademark cheerleading skills as he wended his way through the crowd, slapping high-fives. (See video below.)
As he moves to the sidelines at Microsoft, he says he supports Nadella’s leadership and the bold changes he has called for, reorganizing management and slashing jobs to make the company quicker to respond to innovation and market demands. “I will be proud, and I will benefit through my share ownership,” Ballmer says. “I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can.”
There is a hint perhaps that he’s also getting out of the way to make it clear that Nadella is now the driving force behind the company. He says he endorses Nadella’s mobile-first, cloud-first strategy for the company, which differs from his depiction of the company as one of devices and services.
“In the mobile-first, cloud-first world, software development is a key skill,” he writes to Nadella, “but success requires moving to monetization through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues. 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.”
Ballmer admits he hadn’t thought anything about what he’d do in his retirement until he actually retired, but has found plenty to do.