At the end of August, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer — who has served as the company’s chief executive since 2000 — surprised the world by announcing that he would retire within the next 12 months. To understate it, the news was a big deal: Ballmer has worked for Microsoft since 1980 and was the company’s 30th hire. He led the company through both the dot-com crash and the late-2000s financial crisis, a period over which annual revenues increased from $25 billion to $77 billion.
But these transitions were by no means easy. Shares of the company have fallen 43 percent since 2000, suffering both in the wake of multiple crises and because of enormous competitive pressures from companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG). The technological landscape on which Microsoft was built has changed dramatically over the past decade, and in many ways, Ballmer has failed to keep up with the Joneses.
But Ballmer isn’t the only one facing shareholder pressure. Investors, keen on shaking the dust out of the upper echelons of Microsoft’s executive team, have reportedly put some pressure on co-Founder and Chairman Bill Gates.