It is mystery why Steve Ballmer decided to retire earlier than expected. Talking to a friend he had an interesting theory that seems plausible to explain the event.
First let's take a time sequence of facts.
1. Steve Ballmer announces the One Microsoft Strategy on July 11, 2013.
2. On Aug, 23, 2013 Microsoft announces Steve Ballmer will retire within 12 months.
3. On Sept 2, 2013 Microsoft announces its acquisition of Nokia Devices and Services.
4. After the Nokia acquisition announcement the story is out that Microsoft has been negotiating with Nokia since Jan 2013.
I just posted about John Sculley discussing the role the Apple Board had in firing Steve Jobs. When you read about the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia devices, there is no mention of the Microsoft Board approving the deal. It would seem like the Microsoft Board would approve the deal.
What happened between July 11 (Microsoft announces reorg) and Aug 23 (Steve Ballmer Retires)? The Nokia negotiations had been going on for 8 months could they have had an affect on Steve Ballmer's retirement?
This graphic has been used to describe how Tech companies are organized. Could there have been someone who held a gun to the Microsoft Board to get them to push for Steve Ballmer's retirement?
Here is an interesting idea that one friend threw out. What if Steve Elop who left Microsoft in 2010, put on the table with the Microsoft Board he wouldn't bring his Nokia team to Microsoft unless Ballmer was not the CEO. The Board faced with the situation of investing in Mobile with a Nokia acquisition or keeping Steve Ballmer as CEO for 4 more years realized they needed Nokia's mobile expertise more than Ballmer. At the same time this was going on, Ballmer was selling the Nokia acquisition as a strategic move Microsoft could not miss and he had a good deal on the table.
There is no data I know of to support this idea. The above is a "thought experiment" on what could explain the surprise Steve Ballmer retirement announcement. I first heard this idea yesterday and it seemed worth throwing out there.
We'll see if the story comes out what happened at the Microsoft Board level for why Steve Ballmer was retired (or fired). It took 26 years for John Sculley to tell the story of the Apple Board's role in removing Steve Jobs. So, it may a long, long time before the story is told on why Steve Ballmer retired early.