[This story is running in the print edition of The Seattle Times Dec. 30, 2013.]
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced this year that he would be retiring within 12 months. Before he leaves, though, he set in motion a series of big changes.
To mark Ballmer’s 14 years as CEO — he was named to the position in January 2000 — here’s a list of 14 notable Microsoft events that happened in 2013, his last full year in office.
1. Ballmer announces retirement; search for successor begins: Ballmer’s August announcement came several years earlier than expected and set off a months-long, ongoing search for his successor.
Microsoft’s board search committee faced the formidable challenge of finding someone capable of leading a high-tech company that last fiscal year brought in $78 billion and is involved in everything from corporate servers to consumer devices to online search.
The CEO search became a bit of a horse race with such early favorites as Ford CEO Alan Mulally and emerging dark horses. The search committee said in mid-December that it had identified more than 100 possible candidates, narrowed the field to about 20 and expected to complete its work in early 2014.
2. Companywide shake-up: In July, Ballmer announced a huge company reorganization designed to forward his goal of transforming Microsoft into a devices-and-services company.
The plan, which he dubbed “One Microsoft,” realigned the company according to function, cutting in half the number of product divisions and centralizing marketing, finance and other services.
As part of the reorganization, Kurt DelBene, president of the Office division, said he would be retiring. In December, President Obama named DelBene to a temporary gig leading the fix for the glitch-plagued Healthcare.gov website.
Also leaving the company was Don Mattrick, president of Microsoft’s Interactive Entertainment division, which produces Xbox. Just ahead of the reorganization announcement, he became CEO of social game company Zynga.