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As word spread of Steve Ballmer’s impending retirement, Microsoft shares soared 8% higher.
Tenacious and sharp-tongued, Steve Ballmer has held the helm at Microsoft for more than 13 years -- much longer than the average tenure for a Fortune 500 CEO, which is typically in the five-year range. Ballmer has navigated highs and lows, economic recessions and recoveries, acquisitions, lawsuits, and competitive battles. On Aug. 23, the company announced that Ballmer will retire as Microsoft CEO at some point in the next 12 months. Here’s a look at the company he’s leaving.
Wall Street responded positively to the news. As word spread of Steve Ballmer’s intended retirement, Microsoft shares soared 8% higher.
Microsoft's Bill Gates turned over the CEO reins to Steve Ballmer on Jan. 13, 2000. The company hit its peak market capitalization soon after the CEO transition, striking $642 billion in September 2000. Today Microsoft’s market capitalization, buoyed by a retirement-related stock surge, is at $289 billion.
At $77 billion, Microsoft’s cash pile is enormous. It’s been growing steadily since the end of 2008, when it totaled $20 billion. Even after spending $20 billion of its cash on stock buybacks during the last three fiscal years, Microsoft has enough cash on hand to be ranked second in FactSet Research Systems’ list of the top 10 non-finance companies with the most cash and short-term investments.
Ballmer has consistently anchored the low end of the CEO pay scale, forgoing the huge cash bonuses, pricey perks, and annual stock awards that many of his peers enjoy. In 2012, Ballmer took home $1.3 million, which included his $685,000 salary, $620,000 bonus, and a mere $13,128 in perks.
Compared to mid-2004, Microsoft’s worldwide employee population today is nearly 75% larger. Headcount dipped in 2009, when Ballmer oversaw Microsoft’s first-ever broad scale layoff.
So far, Microsoft has completed 84 acquisitions during Ballmer’s tenure, including a handful of billion-dollar-plus deals: Yammer (2012), Skype (2011), Fast Search & Transfer (2008), aQuantive (2007), and Navision (2002).
Just a few weeks ago, Microsoft detailed a sweeping corporate reorganization to focus on the company’s shift from a software provider to a products and services business. The reorg divides the company into four divisions: Operating Systems Engineering, Devices and Studios Engineering, Applications and Services Engineering, and Cloud and Enterprise Engineering.
Windows XP has been around almost as long as Ballmer. Microsoft launched Windows XP on Oct. 25, 2001, and it’s still trying to get the aged operating system out the door. (Microsoft has said it will retire Windows XP and stop serving security updates after April 8, 2014.)
Here’s a look at Ballmer near the start and end of his storied Microsoft tenure.