Steve Ballmer is to retire as Microsoft CEO within the next year. Unlike gaming boss Don Mattrick’s abrupt departure after the Xbox One launch failure, Ballmer is going to stay on and will even have a role in picking his successor, so it may be a year or more before he actually enters retirement.
Ballmer did not just oversee the gaming arm of Microsoft, though he was always in the forefront of the company’s push on that front, and a frequent attendee and speaker at E3 Expo. The timing of the announcement comes during Gamescom, but that may be coincidence.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said when making the announcement. "We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing senior leadership team. My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction."
Microsoft has said that it will be looking both internally and externally for candidates. For the games industry, to see someone from their gaming arm rise to the CEO position would signal a strong commitment in that area, though given the small percentage of Microsoft’s business that actually comes from games, this is probably unlikely.