Steve Ballmer announced last week that he’s retiring as CEO of Microsoft. An industry analyst argues that he’s not going willingly, but is leaving because of the huge loss his company recently took on the Microsoft Surface RT.
Last month, Microsoft revealed that it needed to take a charge of $900 million to write off Surface RT units that it won’t be able to sell. This was the nadir of a generally poor quarter when the company missed analysts expectations by a wide margin.
Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy told Computerworld “He [Ballmer] was definitely pushed out by the board. They either drove him out, or put him in a situation where he felt he had to leave to save face.”
Moorhead argues that Ballmer is being forced out because of poor handling of the Surface RT. Microsoft’s CEO was very bullish on the device, frequently singing its praises in public and ordering millions of units to be produced. In reality, less than a million Surface RT tablets have been sold, and Microsoft has significantly cut the price of this device (from $500 to $350 and less for educators) hoping to spur sales.
The analysts asked “How can you be that far off what consumers want? Was it that you’re not listening to your team?”
Although there’s no “smoking gun” to prove Ballmer is being made to leave the company, he has said in the past he planned to retire in 2018, while he is now going to be out before the fall of 2014 — the Microsoft Board of Directors is currently looking for a replacement.