It was a full house at Microsoft’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday, where outgoing CEO Steve Ballmer made his final address prior to his retirement. Ballmer kept it minimal and light-hearted, covering the major points of Microsoft’s past year while urging shareholders to keep the faith as far as Bing and Xbox were concerned – there have long been calls for those two particular units of the company to be sold off.
It was executive chairman Bill Gates who showed the biggest outpouring of emotion when he spoke of Ballmer’s 13-year-long contribution to the Washington-based company. Choking back his tears, Gates thanked Ballmer for all he had done, and noted that Ballmer had been one of the only two CEOs in Microsoft’s “unusual” history – including himself.
Microsoft reps have declined to comment on Ballmer’s replacement, although a shortlist including former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop and Ford CEO Alan Mullaly has made it to the media. When a shareholder suggested that a government position as an information technology secretary should be created for Ballmer, the latter’s reply was that he didn’t think the job would benefit any government departments, but thanked him for “trying to help me find work”.