July 21st, 2015
After 33 years of entertaining Microsoft fans and critics alike with his onstage antics, company CEO Steve Ballmer is finally stepping down.
While Ballmer isn’t due to officially leave Microsoft for months, his farewell to staffers has been captured in a video that reveals the passion and love he seems to have for the Redmond, Wash. company.
Obtained by The Verge, the video begins with a red-faced and teary-eyed Ballmer on stage, bathed in the glare of stadium spotlights as thousands of employees look on.
In what appears to be an unprepared speech, Ballmer talks about his love for the job and Microsoft employees. With his voice wavering, Ballmer says, “This isn’t about any one person, it’s about the company … It’s my whole professional world. Microsoft is like a fourth child to me. Children do leave the house. In this case, I guess I’m leaving the house.”
After that, Ballmer introduces his exit music, the theme from the 1987 film Dirty Dancing called, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.” Then — no longer able to contain himself — Ballmer begins openly weeping, as he storms the audience, giving high fives and hugs to his employees. The end of the video shows Ballmer giving one of his trademark enthusiastic air punches, as he trots out of the stadium to a standing ovation.
Sure, the video is a bit over-the-top, particularly if you’re not a Microsoft employee or a fan of its products. But what the video does represent is a rare glimpse at what the controlled descent of a technology titan looks like. Worth an estimated $18 billion, Ballmer was with Microsoft back in the rough-and-tumble 1980s, when no one was sure that the personal-computer industry was even a viable long-term business.
In August, Microsoft announced that Ballmer would retire within 12 months. The company has yet to find a successor.
In a statement accompanying the news of his retirement, Ballmer said, “There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time … My original thoughts on timing would have had my retirement happen in the middle of our company’s transformation to a devices and services company. We need a CEO who will be here longer term for this new direction.”
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