Today Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that within 12 months, he will exit as the company’s leader. A special consortium at the company will work to find his replacement. And that person won’t be Steve Sinofsky or Bill Gates so calm down.
The news, announced before the bell this morning, has sent Microsoft’s stock up. Not as high as you might think, but just under 7 percent. At the time of writing, Microsoft is trading at $34.55 per share. It closed yesterday at $32.39. Doing a simply valuation calculation, Microsoft is now worth $18 billion more than it was yesterday.
Call it the Ballmer bump.
Investors are essentially betting that Microsoft, under a new leader, will be able to move more quickly on its plan to leave software behind, and instead become a company that vends its vaunted “devices and services.”
However, Ballmer’s exit is perfect in a way, given that he stuck it out until a number of things were sorted. New business model for the company so that it can face the future? Check. Moving into the OEM space to grow revenue in a new market? Check. New mobile platform that proves itself in the market and will soon reach eight-figure unit volume quarterly? Check. Move Office to a subscription product based on the cloud? Check. Incubate new enterprise-facing products to build new revenue streams? Check. And of course, re-tool Windows for touch, and then re-tool that version of Windows to work? Check.
Microsoft’s long-languishing stock price and history of products such as Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Vista are darker marks on Ballmer’s tenure. However, he is leaving on a high note. And I can respect that.
Now. Who is next?
Top Image Credit: Microsoft Sweden
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