(NEW YORK) -- After 33 years at the company, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will retire within the next 12 months. Until a successor is chosen, Ballmer will continue as CEO, the company said Friday morning.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer, 57, said in a statement. "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 statement continued.
The company said lead independent director John Thompson will head up the search for a new CEO and the committee will include founder and Chairman Bill Gates.
Investors cheered the news, sending Microsoft shares up 6.7 percent to $34.57 just after the opening bell in New York.
"The board is committed to the effective transformation of Microsoft to a successful devices and services company," Thompson said in a statement. "As this work continues, we are focused on selecting a new CEO to work with the company's senior leadership team to chart the company's course and execute on it in a highly competitive industry."
Ballmer, who was Microsoft's 30th employee, has been CEO since 2000. He's overseen a period of change as the world's largest software maker has transitioned away from its focus on PC operating systems to multiple platforms and hardware such as tablets.
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