Steve Ballmer has stepped down from Microsoft’s board, just about six months after Satya Nadella’s ascent into the CEO role.
Considering that Nadella has scrapped Ballmer’s vision for Microsoft as a ‘devices and services’ company, I was unsurprised by the news.
I was also not surprised to see that Ballmer snuck the ‘devices and services’ line into his resignation letter:
I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms and productivity and the building of capability in devices and services as core business drivers.
Nadella is pushing the ‘platforms and productivity’ message, so Ballmer at least gave him equal time.
Ballmer also talked about hardware, which his acquisition of Nokia and the launching of the dud Surface Tablet is like an anchor around Nadella’s neck [emphasis mine]:
Microsoft will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment. Writing great software is a tremendous accomplishment and selling software has been a fabulous business. In the mobile-first, cloud-first world, software development is a key skill, 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.
Nadella’s response to the email resignation was understated and brief, and I am sure he is happy to have Ballmer off messing with the Clippers and not hovering over his shoulder, talking about how to turn around the hardware end of the business.
Ballmer is still the largest individual shareholder so theoretically he has serious throw weight with the board. However, as the former (and failed) CEO of the company, most of that influence is blunted, and certainly if Nadella wanted him to stay, he would still be there.
Now Nadella only has Gates looming in the background.