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Steve Ballmer Was Forced Out From Microsoft CEO Spot: Reports

08/26/2013 10:29 am ET
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When Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his retirement on Friday, a few suspected it wasn't his decision. On Monday, the reports started trickling in on what went down inside the tech giant.

"He was definitely pushed out by the board," Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy told Computerworld. "They either drove him out, or put him in a situation where he felt he had to leave to save face."

Moorhead suggests that Microsoft's $900 million Surface RT disaster may have been one of the causes of Ballmer's seemingly sudden departure. In July, Microsoft lost $900 million because of its enormous inventory of unsold Surface RT tablets, causing stock prices to tumble 5 percent.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to request for comment.

As AllThingsD's Kara Swisher points out, it looks like Ballmer's retirement announcement was more sudden than many realized. Ballmer seemed enthusiastic about staying with Microsoft when a company restructuring was announced in July. "Lots of change. But in all of this, many key things remain the same," Ballmer wrote in a memo to employees last month. "It’s why I come to work inspired every day. It’s why we’ve evolved before, and why we’re evolving now. Because we’re not done."

Ballmer himself even suggested that he hadn't planned to leave so soon in his letter to the company. "My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our transformation to a devices and services company focused on empowering customers in the activities they value most," Ballmer wrote Friday.

"I think the board probably made the decision that it was time for him to go," Eros International Chairman Hussein Kanji told Bloomberg.

Though Ballmer's announcement may have been sudden, but it shouldn't necessarily have come as a surprise, based on his track record. When Ballmer took over in 2000, Microsoft was worth almost $400 billion. Thirteen years later, its value has dropped to around $286 billion.

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