Steve Ballmer recently gave his exit interview to The Wall Street Journal. Why did Ballmer decide it was his time to step down? He received indications from board members that the company was moving too slow under his leadership. This past January, Ballmer was laying out a strategy to fight the rise of Android and the iPhone to board members in a conference call.
Lead director John Thompson said “Hey, dude, let’s get on with it… We’re in suspended animation.” This conversation convinced Ballmer that it may be time to step down because he could not move fast enough to make the board happy.
Thompson said that the board did not push Steve to step down, but “we were pushing him damn hard to go faster.” Ballmer attempted to go faster by reorganizing the company and make the company more collaborative. The senior team was not expecting a “New Steve.” A few months ago, Ballmer started doubting that he could change the company as quickly as the board wanted him to. This is why he decided to retire.
“No matter how fast I want to change, there will be some hesitation from all constituents?employees, directors, investors, partners, vendors, customers, you name it?to believe I’m serious about it, maybe even myself,” stated Ballmer.