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Longtime Microsoft board member Jon Shirley to step down

He says he won't seek re-election to the software giant's board of directors when the annual meeting is held this fall.

Microsoft announced Tuesday that its longtime board member and former executive Jon Shirley has decided not to run for re-election at the company's annual shareholders meeting.

Jon Shirley
Jon Shirley Microsoft

Shirley, who served as Microsoft's president and chief operating officer for seven years through 1990, is retiring from the board after 25 years. He will remain on the board until the shareholders meeting in November.

"Having turned 70 years old this year, I'm at a point in my life where I want to reduce my professional commitments and allow more time pursuing some of my personal interests," Shirley said in a statement. "I could only make this decision knowing that Microsoft is well-positioned for success in the years ahead. I have the utmost confidence in the leadership of Microsoft and believe we have established the strongest board in the history of the company."

Shirley's decision to resign from the board comes as Microsoft faces a difficult dilemma: spend the most it's ever paid in an acquisition to snap up Yahoo and put its search and advertising business on a fast-track, or seek out ways to rapidly grow that business organically.

Microsoft in February announced an unsolicited bid for Yahoo, valued at $44.6 billion--its largest buyout offer in its history.

But the buyout efforts failed, with Microsoft walking away from the table after Yahoo rebuffed its sweetened bid of $33 a share, up from its initial offer of $31 a share. Subsequently, a run at trying to acquire just Yahoo's search business, rather than the entire company, failed last week, after Yahoo refused to sell the assets.