Gates’s Successor Helped Build Behemoth, but Missteps Leave Microsoft Vulnerable
By DON CLARK and SHIRA OVIDE
MSFT +7.29% Steve Ballmer tried new operating systems, new gadgets and new management structures. But the times caught up with a man who helped build one of the greatest companies of the 20th century.
Mr. Ballmer’s surprise retirement announcement Friday follows years of criticism about the waning growth and stagnant stock price of Microsoft, a force in the personal-computer era whose power was once so great that U.S. regulators sought to break up the company.
PC sales—the lifeblood of Microsoft’s business—are on a steady decline. Business and casual users alike are switching to devices and services offered by Apple Inc. AAPL -0.39% and Google Inc. GOOG -0.40%
Investors cheered the news, pushing Microsoft shares up 7%, or $2.36, to $34.75, in 4 p.m. trading Friday on the Nasdaq Stock Market.