When Microsoft announced Steve Ballmer's impending departure from the company last week, it portrayed the chief executive's decision to retire as a carefully planned moment. According to a new report, however, the chief executive's departure is more sudden than originally revealed. AllThingsD, which accurately broke the news of Microsoft's restructuring in recent months, reports Ballmer's decision to leave was sped up because the executive's leadership was viewed as "becoming a very obvious lightning rod," among other reasons. The outlet cites "dozens of people inside and outside" of Microsoft as the sources of the information, with "many" of the unnamed sources being "close to the situation."
Instead, sources said Ballmer's timeline had been moved up drastically — first by him and then the nine-member board, including his longtime partner and Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates — after all agreed that it was best if he left sooner than later.
That was due to a number of increasingly problematic issues on the immediate horizon — including a potentially nasty proxy fight, continued business performance declines and, perhaps most of all, that Ballmer's leadership was becoming a very obvious lightning rod.
Interestingly, Ballmer actually indicated that he had planned on staying in his letter about his impending departure, noting: "My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most."