Bill Gates has said that the company he co-founded is well into its search for its next CEO. A replacement for outgoing chief Steve Ballmer is hard to find, though.
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.
During Microsoft's annual shareholders meeting, co-founder Bill Gates said that the company has met with "a lot" of potential CEOs to take over from outgoing chief executive Steve Ballmer but that it wasn't an easy task.
"It's a hard role to fill," Gates told shareholders, also saying that both he and Ballmer were committed to finding a chief executive to lead the company through its latest transformation. Ballmer's imminent retirement will mark the start of Microsoft's evolution to a more homogenous company with a unified portfolio of services, rather than compartmentalised, individual products teams prone to infighting.
Gates and Ballmer were Microsoft's one-two team for decades, with Ballmer joining the company in Gates' old role in January 2000 and presiding over the launches of Windows XP, the original Xbox, the Xbox 360, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Phone 7, Windows Phone 8 and, most recently, Windows 8 and the Surface mobile device brand.
Steve Ballmer announced his pending retirement in August this year, saying he would remain with the company until a suitable successor was found within the next 12 months. At the shareholders meeting, all of Microsoft's existing directors, including Ballmer, won re-election, although the current CEO will not stay to see his entire term through.