It's probably a bad sign when investors react to news of your CEO's departure by buying like crazy. Microsoft dropped a bombshell this morning by announcing that Steve Ballmer would retire within 12 months, the AP reports. The company gave no indication of who might succeed the longtime executive, saying only that the board had appointed a special committee to find someone. Word of his departure was enough to send the stock up about 9% in premarket trading.
"There is never a perfect time for this type of transition, but now is the right time," Ballmer said in a press release. "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 move comes about a month after Microsoft released a grisly fourth-quarter report that saw it take a $900 million write-down on its Surface RT tablet. (Read more Steve Ballmer stories.)