Microsoft has announced that CEO Steve Ballmer with retire within 12 months, kicking off a stock spike. Ballmer will continue his position at Microsoft until a successor to the Microsoft kingdom has been tapped.

“There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time,” Ballmer said. “We have embarked on a new strategy with a new organization and we have an amazing Senior Leadership Team.

“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.”

The Board of Directors, led by independent director John Thompson and including Bill Gates, Chuck Noski, and Steve Luczo, have appointed a special committee to start the process. One interesting note is that upon the announcement of his exit Microsoft’s stock spiked making the already over $10 billionaire about $769 million dollars, not a bad morning.

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[Via Microsoft]