And then there was one...
Jeff Raikes retires from MSFT.
My initial reaction - "Wow!". Didn't see this one coming. Gates, Ballmer, and Raikes have effectively been the top echelon of the company for as long as I can remember. With Gates having already announced his retirement this year, and now Raikes as well, that leaves just Ballmer from the original troika.
The [external] choice for Raikes' replacement seems to have the right pedigree. There is also a fairly decent transition period - so hopefully no balls get dropped in the process. But Raikes did a solid job with Office and was widely seen as the leading candidate to succeed Ballmer. So combine that with some other recent high level departures, and I don't think the market is going to respond positively to the news tomorrow.
- Key Microsoft exec Jeff Raikes retiring (Updated)
- Raikes Steps Aside
- Raikes retiring, now who will be the next CEO?
- Juniper Networks exec to succeed Microsoft Business Division President Raikes
- Microsoft Announces Retirement and Transition Plan for Jeff Raikes, President of the Microsoft Business Division
- Microsoft Shakeup Equals a Raikes Take-Out
- Microsoft’s Raikes retires, replaced by former Macromedia CEO Stephen Elop
Update: Made some additions/deletions.
Update #2 (1/11/08): Additional coverage that caught my eye:
- Raikes reflects on 26-year run at Microsoft
- Raikes to Follow Gates Out the Door
- Office man to exit Microsoft
"I don't have CEO envy," he said. "I like the kind of role that I play in the business. The key thing is Steve's a tremendous leader of our company and he's made it clear that he wants to be CEO here for many, many years — maybe 10 years or more — and I think that's great. I think that's the best thing for Microsoft."
(possibly telling comment here, assuming you read between the lines?)
- Analysts React to Elop’s Microsoft Defection
- Elop brings strong skills to take on competitors
- Juniper shares drop 15% after COO resigns to take Microsoft job (apparently someone agrees with the article above, though there was a analyst downgrade there as well).
- Microsoft shuffles management in mid-year cleanse (Includes some analyst perspectives for and against the Elop choice)
- The Microsoft reorg week in review (Foley details the recent senior level departures)
As someone who has been calling for leadership change for some time, I guess I'm overall happy to see it possibly occurring in earnest. But if it is (and the departure of Gates and Raikes make it unique regardless), it's almost inevitable that there will be those you didn't want to lose along the way - and ones that don't go who should. Let's hope both are minimized. It would also be nice if these announcements weren't landing so close to earnings and dribbling out piecemeal, with reports of still more departures to come. As this level, as reported, these things don't normally come as a surprise, at least for Ballmer. So make the announcements - all of them - and let employees and the market move on. That way it sounds like planned change, not musical chairs at the top or - worse - abandon ship.