Bill Gates, founder and chairman of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) becomes emotional and held back his tears while discussing the company’s search for a new chief executive officer who will replace retiring Steve Ballmer during the annual shareholders meeting in Washington.

Gates said the software giant is interviewing several candidates to serve as the next CEO, but he did not provide further details about the process. According to him, the position is “a complex role to fill” and the executive who will succeed Ballmer need to be comfortable in leading a company such as Microsoft.

He took the opportunity to thank Ballmer for his contribution at Microsoft. He said, “I want to say thanks for the leadership over the last 13 years. It’s a real privilege to lead the incredibly talented group of employees we have,” while speaking, Gates paused as he became emotional and held back his tears.

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Gates regained his composure and continued, “We’ve got a commitment to make sure the next CEO is the right person for right time for the company we both love. We share a commitment that Microsoft will succeed as a company that makes the world a better place.”

Candidates for CEO

A related report from Reuters indicated that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) is considering a handful of candidates after narrowing down its shortlist based information obtained from individuals knowledgeable about the efforts of the software giant in searching for a new CEO.

According to sources, the candidates include Allan Mullally, CEO of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), Stephen Elop, former CEO of Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK), and Tony Bates, former CEO of Skype and currently in-charge of business development at Microsoft.

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Microsoft still profitable under Ballmer’s leadership

Under Ballmer’s leadership, Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) remained profitable. Last month, the company delivered $0.62 earnings per share on $18.53 billion revenue (GAAP) for the three months period that ended September 30.  The financial results of the company beat the $0.53 earnings per share on $17.8 billion revenue consensus estimate of Wall Street analysts based on data compiled by FactSet.

Over the past 52-week range, the stock price of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) climbed from $26.26 to $38.22 per share. The company received criticisms after failing to capture significant market share in the latest trends in technology particularly in smartphone and tablet markets. The company acquired the Devices and Services business of Nokia Corporation to increase its competitiveness in the space.

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