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Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s former chief executive, is leaving Microsoft’s board, according to a letter he sent to his successor, Satya Nadella.

Microsoft posted the letter on its website earlier today.

In the letter, Ballmer acknowledged the company’s strengths and suggested good things are ahead under Nadella’s leadership.

First, Microsoft has been my life’s work and I am proud of that and excited by what I see in front of the company and this leadership team. There are challenges ahead but the opportunities are even larger. No company in the world has the mix of software skills, cloud skills, and hardware skills we have assembled. We draw talent as well as any company in the world. We have the profitability to invest in long-term opportunities and still deliver superior shorter term performance. You’re off to a bold and exciting start.

At the same time, Ballmer pointed out to Microsoft’s challenges.

Microsoft will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment. … 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.

Ballmer’s move and statement come weeks after Microsoft announced major cuts across the company.

In the long term, Ballmer seems bullish on Microsoft. After all, he’s got a stake in it.

I hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future.

Nadella showed his support for Ballmer’s departure in a statement of his own.

First, thank you for all of your support during my transition this year and for the past 34 years. It’s been a great privilege to have worked with you and learned from you. Under your leadership, we created an incredible foundation that we continue to build on — and Microsoft will thrive in the mobile-first, cloud-first world.

Now Ballmer has more time to cheer on the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” he wrote, adding that “the start of the NBA season” will make this fall “hectic.” Which is why he’s leaving the board immediately.




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