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Ballmer steps down from board, cuts last official tie with Microsoft

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft's chief for 14 years before resigning in February, has now also stepped down as a member of the company's board of directors.

Steve Ballmer, one of the seminal figures in Microsoft's history, resigned as a member of the company's board of directors. James Martin/CNET

Steve Ballmer today cut his remaining official tie with the company he ran for 14 years, resigning as a member of Microsoft's board of directors.

The announcement, which closes a big chapter in Microsoft's history, was expected. In February, Ballmer stepped down as CEO in favor of Satya Nadella. Since then, he has kept a low profile -- his biggest news being his $ 2 billion purchase of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.

Indeed, Ballmer referenced his new career as basketball mogul in what was framed as a "Dear Satya" letter.

"Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season so my departure from the board is effective immediately," he wrote.

"I bleed Microsoft -- have for 34 years and I always will," Ballmer said in his note.

In his published response, Nadella said that he understood and supported Ballmer's decision, adding that "your insights and leadership will be greatly missed as part of the board."

The presence of the old CEO on the board with his replacement might have led to awkward situations -- especially given that Nadella is trying to steer the company in a different direction. Ballmer alluded to that possibility in a read-between-the-lines mention in his statement.

He noted that Microsoft "will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed" as the company pivots toward Nadella's vision of a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

"Making that change while also managing the existing software business well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has," he wrote. "Our board must also support and encourage that fearlessness for shareholders to get the best performance from Microsoft. You must drive that."

Severing his last official Microsoft connection does not mean Ballmer plans to start dumping his stock. Ballmer received a not-so-gentle nudge out the door when lead director John Thompson suggested he was moving too slowly to recharge the company with his now-famous quip: "Hey, dude, let's get on with it... We're in suspended animation."

But things never turned acrimonious -- not to the point of pique that led Steve Jobs to keep only one Apple share after the board fired him as CEO in 1985.

In fact, Ballmer noted, he continues to hold more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds and said he planned to "continue holding that position for the foreseeable future."

Microsoft shares are up .6 percent at $45.13 as of publish time Tuesday.