Report: Gates, Microsoft board felt Ballmer should leave sooner

|About: Microsoft Corporation (MSFT)|By:, SA News Editor

Kara Swisher reports Steve Ballmer's (MSFT) departure announcement  was "neither planned nor as smooth as portrayed."

Sources suggest the timeline for Ballmer's exit "had been moved up drastically — first by him and then the nine-member board, including ... Bill Gates — after all agreed that it was best if he left sooner than later"

Remarks in Ballmer's departure memo about originally wanting to leave in the middle of Microsoft's "transformation to a devices and services company" had already spurred internal chatter about a forced exit, as did the fact Ballmer never thanked Gates.

One source: "Did Gates instigate it? No ... But was he as supportive of Ballmer as he had been in the past? Maybe not."

Ballmer mentioned in a Friday ZDNet interview he began talking to potential replacements 3-4 years ago. But he has also previously suggested he wouldn't step down until the 2017-2018 timeframe.

This is the second time in a year Swisher has reported Gates backed the departure of a senior Microsoft exec. Last November, she reported Gates (and Ballmer) supported removing long-time Windows chief Steven Sinofsky.

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