BELLEVUE, Wash. - Bill Gates tried to hold back tears as he talked about the search for a new CEO at the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting in Bellevue.
Tuesday’s meeting was Steve Ballmer’s last as CEO. In August, he announced he will step down in 12 months.
Much of the shareholders meeting showcased new Microsoft products like Xbox One, which launches Friday. But the devices, Sky Drive cloud storage, and software, weren’t the only things on shareholders’ minds.
“I think they're heading the right direction,” said Jerry Kittelson of Kirkland. “It's just I'm worried about the leader. Who the leader is going to be.”
Gates, the Microsoft Board Chairman, said there's no timeline for the new CEO. But he said it's going well with internal and external candidates. He and Steve Ballmer have been the only two CEOs since the company was founded 33 years ago.
Gates got choked up as he talked about what he and Ballmer have in common.
“We've got a commitment to make sure the next CEO is the right person at the right time for the company we both love,” said Gates as he paused to hold back tears. “And, um, we share commitment that Microsoft will succeed as a company that makes the world a better place.”
Ballmer focused on the company's latest shift in strategy from primarily a software company to expressing creativity through a series of devices and software.
“A key part of the strategy is this focus on what we call high value activities,” said Ballmer. “Think about the things that are most important in a person's life.”
And the Xbox One's connectivity to the internet, TV, and even your photos through cloud storage is a prime example.
While investors heard plenty about the products, they didn’t hear much about the next leader of the company.
“I wish they would communicate more clearly what they're really looking for,” said Kittelson.
The next CEO remains up in the air, or should we say “the cloud.”