TIME technology

SpaceX Delays Launch Days After Test Mishap

SpaceX
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sits on a lauch pad on Oct. 7, 2012 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX is delaying this week's Falcon 9 rocket launch by a day following an explosion of a test flight of its experimental Falcon 9R rocket. Joe Raedle—Getty Images

The company says it will review flight record details before the next test flight

SpaceX delayed the launch of a commercial communications satellite on Tuesday, days after an experimental rocket failed mid-flight.

The private space firm founded by Elon Musk was set to launch the AsiaSat 6 satellite on its Falcon 9 rocket early Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, but the launch was delayed 24 hours, the Los Angeles Times reports.

On Friday, a test flight of the Falcon 9R, an experimental reusable rocket, experienced an anomaly, SpaceX said in a statement. As a result, the flight was terminated–the rocket blew itself up.

No one was injured in the incident, and the company said that the experimental flight was “particularly complex.”

But SpaceX said at the time that it would review flight record details before the next test flight, and the LA Times reports that the space exploration company is taking extra time to review the case ahead of the AsiaSat 6 satellite launch.

[LA Times]

TIME

China’s Supersonic Submarine? Not Gonna Happen

Take your time, boys; you're not going anywhere fast
Take your time, boys; you're not going anywhere fast Mike Clarke—AFP/Getty Images

To hear Chinese military sources tell it, the country is on its way to developing a submarine that can travel 6,100 mph—which is why you should never listen to Chinese military sources

There are a whole lot of things that won’t be happening anytime soon. Pigs flying, for instance; that won’t happen. All of the raindrops becoming lemon drops and gumdrops; that won’t happen either. And despite what you have been reading practically everywhere today, no, China won’t be deploying a submarine capable of moving at 6,100 mph (9,800 k/h) and covering the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco in 100 minutes—at least not in anything remotely like the near future.

Let’s begin with the source of the story: engineer Li Fengchen, of the Harbin Institute of Technology, the project’s lead researcher. Mr. Li is surely an impeccably honest man and a very good engineer, but the Chinese government has not always covered itself in glory when it comes to candor and there’s no reason to believe they’d start with a program as sensitive as this.

“The idea that any Chinese research association would talk about its best ideas is ludicrous beyond words,” says physicist and naval weapons expert Norman Friedman, of the U.S. Naval Institute. “They simply don’t go public with this kind of project, though they do sometimes show off things that don’t exist.”

The bigger problem involves a couple of matters Friedman knows a thing or two about: physics and engineering. The technology that has caused all the buzz is something called supercavitation, and there’s nothing fanciful about it—it’s been around since the Cold War, though it’s been used only in torpedoes. Supercavitation involves agitating water in such a way that it forms a bubble of vapor completely surrounding the moving body, dramatically reducing friction, and dramatically increasing speed. Traditional propellors can’t be used to generate that speed, since they have to touch the water and all any part of the sub or torpedo touches is vapor. Instead, rocket engines provide the push, relying on the same action-reaction principle rockets use in space.

“It’s not a friction-free ride,” says Friedman, “but you do get some distance out of it and it can move at high speeds.”

But how much distance and how high a speed? There, it turns out, is the rub. The best-known supercavitating torpedo, the Russian Shkval—or squall—achieves a speed of around 200 knots (230 mph), according to Friedman, but it’s a short-range weapon, able to sprint only about 10,000 yards, since it must be stuffed with enough hardware both to churn water to vapor and run the rocket engines and still have enough room left over for an explosive charge. With all that, it can carry only a limited amount of fuel.

A submarine, Friedman estimates, could possibly stretch the range to 40 mi. (64 km). But as for somehow increasing the speed from 230 mph to 6,100 mph? Even the Chinese spokesfolks who are talking so freely don’t pretend to have an answer for that one.

Finally, there’s the problem of trying to point the sub where you want it to go. For both surface vessels and submersibles, that job is achieved by turning a rudder against the water, but poke a rudder into the water of a supercavitating vessel and you pop the bubble that surrounds the ship—not to mention snapping the rudder completely off when it suddenly encounters resistance. “Steering,” Friedman says, “wouldn’t be any fun.”

None of this is to suggest that these problems won’t be solved some day. But that’s true of almost any technical challenge you can name. Despite what China is saying, the submarine’s some day isn’t a soon day.

TIME Military

Watch the 100-Year History of Tear Gas in 2 Minutes

Banned in warfare, but used for crowd control at home.

+ READ ARTICLE

Tear gas, a noxious agent that causes tearing, vomiting and pain, was first used in combat by the French military during World War One 100 years ago. It was soon co-opted by the U.S. Chemical Warfare Service for use as a crowd control agent.

After being initially introduced as a replacement for poison gas after that substance was banned from battlefields, tear gas was soon being used used to quell large crowds in the 1920’s and 1930’s that gathered in the midst of food scarcity and economic uncertainty.

Its use continued throughout the 1960s, being used to corral anti-war protestors, most notably at the University of California, Berkeley. Despite now being banned from wartime use, tear gas is still in use for domestic crowd control, most recently seen during recent protests in Ferguson, Missouri.

TIME technology

WhatsApp Now Has 600 Million Monthly Users

Fackbook Acquires WhatsApp For $16 Billion
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

That's 100 million more than in April

Popular messaging service WhatsApp has reached 600 million monthly active users, according to the company’s CEO, Jan Koum.

WhatsApp was approaching the half-billion user mark when Facebook agreed to buy the company for $19 billion in February, and passed that figure in April.

WhatsApp is one of a variety of SMS alternatives that allow users to send mobile photos and messages to each other via the Internet. Line, a app popular in Asia, has 400 million users and Facebook’s own Messenger service has 200 million.

Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

TIME Google

Google Android in One Breathtaking Chart

Everything you need to know in one graphic

fortunelogo-blue
This post is in partnership with Fortune, which offers the latest business and finance news. Read the article below originally published at Fortune.com.

By Philip Elmer-DeWitt

OpenSignal

Android devices come in all shapes and sizes and may run any one of more than a half-dozen active versions of Google’s GOOG -0.14% operating system.

This diversity is both a blessing and a curse, as OpenSignal reports in its 2014 Android fragmentation survey.

On one hand, fragmentation gives app developers a wide audience to build for — far wider than Apple’s iOS. On the other, trying to develop an app that will run on the entire range of Android devices is a nightmare.

How fragmented has Android become? From OpenSignal’s findings:

  • 18,796 distinct Android configurations seen in 2014
  • 11,868 seen in 2013
  • 3,997 seen in 2012

For the rest of the story, please go to Fortune.com.

TIME technology

4 Ways Tim Cook Has Changed Apple as CEO

Apple Hosts Its Worldwide Developers Conference
Apple CEO Tim Cook walks off stage after speaking during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference at the Moscone West center on June 2, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

When Steve Jobs stepped down as Apple’s CEO on August 24, 2011, the company’s future was anything but certain. The tech giant had become the most valuable company in the world just weeks before, thanks to a decade’s worth of wildly successful new products like the iPod, iPhone and iPad. The disruptive devices were credited almost exclusively to Jobs’ genius, and consumers as well as Wall Street analysts wondered whether Tim Cook, his soft-spoken successor, could guide Apple even higher.

Fast forward three years and Cook has proved his doubters wrong. This week, he got quite the anniversary gift when Apple’s stock reached an all-time high, largely because of strong recent earnings reports and anticipation of the iPhone 6, rumored to be announced this fall. Apple’s new share price high is a sign investors are buying into Cook’s vision for the companys’ future, which looks different from Jobs’s.

Here’s a look at four ways Apple has changed during the Era of Cook.

Only Cook Could Go to China

Jobs famously never visited China during his tenure as Apple CEO—that was Cook’s job, who served as the company’s chief operating officer before Jobs stepped down. As CEO, Cook has taken a more hands-on approach in the world’s most populous country, visiting China multiple times to meet with government officials and survey Apple’s factories there. Even more important than the trips is the deal Cook inked last year with China Mobile, the world’s largest wireless carrier, to carry the iPhone. His focus on the country has paid off handsomely. China is now Apple’s fastest-growing sales market by far, generating $5.9 billion in revenue in the most recent quarter.

“There is no doubt [Cook] recognizes the fact that China will become Apple’s number one market,” Thomas Husson, an analyst at Forrester, said in an email to TIME.

Goosing Apple’s Stock Through Share Buybacks

Investors have long clamored for Apple to make better use of its massive $160 billion cash hoard. Jobs ignored a suggestion by Warren Buffet to launch a share buyback program, but Cook has launched a massive share repurchase plan to reclaim $90 billion in company stock. Such programs make investors happy by putting cash in their pockets, while also improving a company’s financial optics by boosting its earnings per share. The share repurchase plan, which was expanded earlier this year, has helped Apple stock rally in recent months after tumbling from an all-time high in September 2012. In fact, the company’s 25% gain in stock price since purchasing $18 billion of its shares in the first quarter of the year was the best return ever following a share buyback, according to Bloomberg.

Diversifying Apple’s Core Products

Part of Apple’s financial success stems from the fact that it manufactures a relatively small slate of products that sell on a massive scale. Cook has deviated somewhat from this strategy by introducing variants on the iPad (the iPad Mini) and the iPhone (the iPhone 5c) that serve as smaller cheaper alternatives to Apple’s flagship devices. Apple doesn’t break out the sales of individual products within the iPad and iPhone lines, but according to mobile marketing firm Fiksu, the iPad Mini was the second most-used iPad as of April. More impressive than the sales is the fact that Cook has been able to keep Apple’s margins impressively high while adding new production costs.

“Jobs did a lot of the heavy lifting developing home run products such as the iPad and iPhone,” says Bill Kreher, an equity analyst at Edward Jones. “Cook has been able to extend the reach of those products, improving profitability.”

Increasing Apple’s Acquisitions and Partnerships

Apple made few acquisitions in the Jobs era, and they were generally small. Cook, on the other hand, has bought up 23 companies since taking the reins, according to Crunchbase. No buyout caused more waves than Apple’s $3 billion purchase of Beats Electronics, which was either a smart acqui-hire of Beats’ music and marketing maestros or proof that Apple has lost its creative spark, depending on your perspective. The purchase mainly showed that Cook isn’t afraid to seek help from outside his Cupertino headquarters. For more evidence, consider Apple’s recently announced partnership with former nemesis IBM to bring a suite of enterprise apps to iOS.

Make no mistake—investors are still clamoring for Cook to release a new product disruptive as the iPhone or the iPad. Rumors persist that Apple will eventually launch an iWatch, or perhaps a pay-TV service to compete with cable. For now, though, with iPhone sales climbing ever higher and investors’ pockets being lined through a share buyback, Wall Street seems content with Apple’s trajectory.

“You have Steve Jobs, who was the innovator, the visionary,” says Kreher, “and you have Tim Cook, who is a good steward of the business and is an excellent executor.”

TIME technology

Controversial Underwear Ad Features Real Female Tech Execs

An image from the Dear Kate Ada Campaign Dear Kate

These tech stars say posing in their undies empowers women in tech, but critics assert they only perpetuate rampant sexism in Silicon Valley

Underwear company Dear Kate is known for using nontraditional models to give real women confidence boosts: previous lookbooks have included athletes, dancers and bloggers. But their newest campaign, featuring prominent women in tech coding while wearing nothing but their underwear, may go too far. Feminists argue the pictures compromise the fight for women to be taken seriously in an industry plagued by accusations of misogyny.

“Posing in your underwear undermines the message that you aim to be taken seriously as a technologist,” says Elissa Shevinsky, CEO of the startup Glimpse Labs and author of the article “That’s It—I’m Finished Defending Sexism in Tech,” on Business Insider.

In the campaign for the Ada collection—named after the world’s first computer programmer Ada Lovelace—founders and CEOs of tech companies pose in bras and panties with laptops balanced on their knees at fashion blog Refinery29’s offices. The pictures, while not quite Victoria’s Secret ads, do show plenty of bare skin. Proponents say the campaign is empowering—similar to recent girl-power advertising that pushes everything from Dove soap to Under Armour sportswear.

“I run a company and you’re trying to have gravitas when you’re a CEO. I was a little bit like, ‘Is it a bad idea to participate in an underwear modeling shoot?'” says one of the models, Adda Birnir. Birnir is CEO and founder of Skillcrush, a website that aims to teach people—and especially women and girls—tech skills. “But it’s a feminist company…and I think it’s so important to support companies that are doing work like that. That overshadowed any of my concerns.”

Dear Kate has a reputation for creating underwear that’s functional and attractive. Their technology provides extra protection for women during their time of the month and for new moms. Their advertising tends to focus on empowering real women. Founder and CEO Julie Sygiel said she was careful to have conversations with the models about how they would pose.

“I think a lot of traditional lingerie photo shoots depict women as simply standing there looking sexy. They’re not always in a position of power and control,” she says. That’s why she asked the women to code in their underwear in a real tech workplace. “In our photo shoots it’s important to portray women who are active and ambitious. They’re not just standing around waiting for things to happen.”

Along with the pictures are quotes from the women about how to ask for a promotion or advice on succeeding in the industry. The result is kind of bizarre: images of women in an office setting wearing nothing but lacy underwear juxtaposed with messages exhorting them to lean in. At the very least, it could send mixed messages about how to get what you want in the work place.

But Birnir says the shoot brings attention to some of the few women who are succeeding in the tech industry–even if the attention is on how they look. “I speak to a lot of women who ask, ‘Is it possible to be a woman in technology and be happy and like your work and not be sexually harassed every day?’ And showing more images of the women who are working in tech and love it and are kicking ass and taking names is a really good thing.”

It’s novel approach to combatting the well-chronicled sexism in the tech industry. Only 18% of computer science degrees go to women, and just 20% of software developers are women. And of those women who do join the tech industry 56% leave mid-career according to research from the Harvard Business School.

Some leave because they feel they cannot excel in the “boys club”: Researchers at Wharton, Harvard and MIT found that when they played investors two recordings of the exact same sales pitch—one read by a man, another read by a woman—the investors preferred the idea when read by a man’s voice two to one. But many women in the industry also complain of sexual harassment. Leaders of well-known startups like SnapChat, Tinder and Rap Genius—to name a few—have all been embroiled in sexual harassment or misogyny-tinged scandals this year alone.

“In Silicon Valley, now more than ever, there is a tension between being seen in a romantic or sexual way and in a professional way. Presenting yourself undressed has inherently sexual overtones, and undermines being seen as a serious technologist,” says Shevinsky. “This is true for both men and for women. Prominent male technologies also follow norms for dress and lifestyle, so that the public focus is on their work not their personal lives. “

“This ad is like a parody,” Shevinsky concludes. “I’m struggling to believe it’s real.”

Skillcrush’s Birnir says she recognizes that posing in underwear has inherently sexual overtones. “But I just don’t think that the photos are in any way demeaning or overly-sexualizing. I think every one of the shots is really beautiful and empowering,” she says.

Another one of the models, Quiessence Phillips, an information security professional who heads up the development at Black Girls Code—which aims to increase the number of women of color in technology—says that she was drawn to the campaign because they showed the diversity of women in technology. “The example that I set and the work that I do speaks for who I am. So taking a tasteful pictures in underwear which is the same as being in a bathing suit, to me, didn’t make a difference,” she says. “I thought it was showing a positive image.” She doesn’t expect that the high school- and middle school-aged girls she works with at Black Girls Code will see the campaign, but if they do, she thinks their takeaway will be that many different types of women can be successful: “We’re showing that women in tech come in all shapes and sizes.”

But employers, investors and even coworkers who can now Google these women and see them in their underwear may not agree that the campaign is empowering. When I asked Birnir if she thought that posing in underwear would undermine a woman’s chances to get funding or get hired, she said: “I don’t understand why that would have any impact on the decision-making process.”

“I don’t know,” she added. “If this makes a sexist investor that much more sexist, I don’t care.”

 

 

TIME apps

Most of Us Don’t Download Any Smartphone Apps at All

Using a smartphone with Spotify app
Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images

And most people spend a huge chunk of time on just one app

More and more of us might be using smartphones to meet our digital needs but, according to the latest data from analytics firm Comscore, we aren’t downloading more apps on top of what comes with our phones.

Only about 35% of smartphone users download any apps at all in an average month, says Comscore’s Mobile App Report—put another way, 65% of smartphone users don’t download a single app in any given month.

That’s not to say that people aren’t using apps, or even that app downloads are down overall. Smartphone sales have been soaring worldwide, broadening the pool of potential app downloaders even as people individually tend not to be downloading very many apps. Indeed, July was Apple’s best month ever for app store revenue.

It seems to be that people just don’t need that many apps. According to Comscore, “a staggering 42% of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on the individual’s single most used app.” It may also be the case, as Quartz notes, that Apple’s app store—the elephant in the app retail room—relies too heavily on Top 25 lists and makes it difficult for users to find new apps they might want.

TIME technology

Taxi Drivers Are Using Apps to Disrupt the Disruptors

Essdras M Suarez—The Boston Globe/Getty Images; Justin Sullivan—Getty Images; Gamma Nine Photography/Uber

Taxis in San Francisco are fighting back through apps, with the city's blessing

Flywheel ScreenshotStanding on the corner of California and Polk in San Francisco, I took out my phone and ordered a ride from Flywheel, an app that’s competing with rival transportation services like Uber and Lyft by leveraging the thousands of taxis already on the road. Like with those services, once I order a Flywheel ride, a map pops up with a car icon, showing me where my ride is in relation to me and allowing me to monitor the driver as he or she gets closer.

Or at least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

On this particular morning, as I watched multiple Lyfts go by (unmissable with their trademark giant pink mustaches attached to the cars’ grilles), and a couple Ubers (the black cars now identifiable by small logos that must be placed on their windows), my driver’s icon drifted away from me. After some minutes passed, I called the driver, who assured me he was on his way. When he continued to travel not towards me, I canceled the order and got a new Flywheel, which picked me up and promptly delivered me to the company’s San Francisco office, with my bill and a 20% tip paid automatically through the credit card I stored on the app.

Once at Flywheel, Chief Product Officer Sachin Kansal explained what had likely happened with my misguided driver. “He may have been ride-stacking,” Kansal explained, meaning that the driver accepted my order on the app and then took a street hail, thinking he could deliver the latter before I ever knew the difference. But the moment I canceled my ride, the driver’s plan was foiled. He would be blocked from the system until Flywheel investigated the case, and these did not appear to be circumstances that would yield quick forgiveness from administrators. Kansal made sure I knew how swiftly justice would be dealt, because this is not the kind of mistake companies can afford to treat lightly in the midst of the Great Ride App Wars.

San Francisco has been transformed into a city full of smartphone-wielding guinea pigs, willing beta testers who try out new services and shovel feedback to engineers. But while many transportation startups are busy dreaming up new and unfamiliar offerings, Flywheel and similar companies like Curb and Hailo are trying to breathe high-tech life into the old taxis that have been around for decades. That business model comes with limitations as well as certain advantages—the biggest of which may be that the city of San Francisco is proving a willing ally, and that could in turn prove a model for other metros. (Lyft did not respond to an interview request for this article, and Uber declined.)

San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency’s “position is that there is a public good to having a regulated taxi industry,” city spokesperson Kristen Holland said in an email. “We want to encourage the public to take San Francisco taxicabs by making them aware of the e-hail option and letting them know the benefits of taking a San Francisco taxicab.”

Earlier this summer, the city and Flywheel teamed up to get their pro-taxi message across by putting cheeky ads like this on the sides of city buses:

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 1.35.15 PM

And this:

Screen Shot 2014-08-15 at 1.35.05 PM

By getting its app adopted a whole fleet at a time, Flywheel now has its system in 80% of San Francisco’s approximately 1,800 cabs and is aiming for 100%. Both the city and companies like Flywheel have a financial interest in cabs doing well—Flywheel through the 10% cut it takes off the base fare and the city through its medallion system, which will yield an anticipated $10 million in fiscal year 2015. Holland says that the city also supports cabs because they’re a known quantity. The city regulates them and decides exactly how the drivers are trained. Questions about insurance and liability, which have plagued startups innovating new transportation systems, have long been answered when it comes to cabs.

Taxi drivers, many bitter that they have to deal with more onerous regulations than drivers for companies like Lyft, have taken to writing down license plate numbers of cars with pink mustaches and reporting them to insurance companies. While cabs are clearly commercial vehicles, Lyft drivers are often using their personal cars to make money, and some insurers have canceled Lyft drivers’ policies after finding out they had only forked out for non-commercial plans.

Using apps like Flywheel is a way for taxis to fight fire with fire instead of tattling, however justified it might seem. Flywheel’s Kansal says that drivers may double the amount of rides they get in a shift through the efficiency that the system provides, matching people who need rides with nearby drivers. “There are weaknesses that others have. There are regulations that they may be breaking,” he says. “But 90% of our energy is spent on making sure this experience always stays top notch. That the experience that you had this morning never happens again.”

While Flywheel can’t turn cabs into fancy black cars or Lyft Plus SUVs, customers who order a taxi never have to worry about surge pricing, premiums that other companies charge in times of high demand. And while Flywheel can’t innovate at the speed of the other companies, given the limitations of what a fleet cab can be, it did just roll out service to airports in San Francisco, Seattle and L.A—something less established fleets still can’t legally do in many cities due to long-standing airport regulations. The California commission regulating the new services like Uber and Lyft has threatened to shut them down if drivers keep showing up at arrival and departure areas without proper permits.

Kansal believes his company can outfit cabs in a way that allows them to disrupt the companies that disrupted cabs in the first place. The fleet model is “very scalable,” he says, though the app is now densely present only in San Francisco and available in just a handful of other cities, most on the West Coast. (Competitor Hailo is the leader among taxi apps on the East Coast and in Europe.)

But the equation isn’t so simple as making lists of pros and cons for new ride-providing companies and app-enabled taxis. After my interview with Kansal, I tried to hail a car through Curb, a rival app that just rebranded itself after previously operating as Taxi Magic. After failing to get a taxi assigned to me before five minutes passed by I went back to Flywheel. A taxi arrived, and I asked my driver Casey Callahan what he thought of using the platform.

“I have mixed feelings,” he says. “You get a lot of business you wouldn’t normally get, and it gives us an edge against Uber, but they take a kind of big cut.” Ten percent seemed too high to Callahan, and that’s the kind of resentment that can fester. UberX drivers protested angrily outside Uber’s HQ in San Francisco earlier this year when the company started taking a bigger cut of the fare, many drivers threatening to go work for someone else. Callahan said the Flywheel app can also have technical kinks, and it remains painful to pass up a willing street hail once he’s agreed to pick up a Flywheel customer, the temptation to which my driver succumbed.

Callahan described all the driver-luring and price-cutting companies are doing to one-up each other in the Bay Area as “cutthroat capitalism at it worst.” But he said that if cab drivers don’t use technology and whatever else they can to fight back, they’re going to go the way of the dodo and the stagecoach. “This is going to be one more thing that’s gone from the American way of life,” he says.

He says he chose driving for a cab company over the new services partly because he doesn’t own his own car and feels that buying one through a company, as some Lyft Plus drivers do, is the equivalent of being an “indentured servant.” Myriad factors could send a driver one way or the other. Long-time cabbies know how much they can make in a shift, while newer companies continue to play with prices and what cuts they take. There’s also the ethos of the job, like Lyft’s requirement that a driver fist-bump each passenger, while a cool distance in taxis is the norm and Uber black car drivers will open your door. There are hours, incentives, pride, rules about where certain companies can go and who they can pick up. And so on.

For those championing taxis, the question is whether cab drivers who long roamed without competition, facing no penalty if they ditched one fare for another, can give their industry the kind of customer-service makeover it takes to convince a San Franciscan to order a Flywheel instead of something from the long menu of other options.

TIME Management

Steve Ballmer Steps Down From Microsoft Board

Steve Ballmer Steps Down From Microsoft Board
Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers Steve Ballmer looks on after being introduced for the first time during the Los Angeles Clippers Fan Festival at Staples Center on August 18, 2014. Jeff Gross—Getty Images

Ballmer said his new commitments, like owning the Clippers, make it "impractical" to continue serving on board

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said Tuesday he has stepped down from the company’s board. Ballmer’s announcement came in a public letter addressed to the company’s current CEO, Satya Nadella.

Ballmer, who retired from the company’s helm in February but kept a seat on the board, cited the time commitments of his existing responsibilities—like owning the Los Angeles Clippers—as his primary reason for departure, which is effective immediately.

“In the six months since leaving, I have become very busy. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time,” Ballmer wrote. “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.”

Ballmer said he will remain Microsoft’s biggest individual shareholder, and encouraged his workplace of 34 years to move boldly “to monetization through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues” while also continuing to manage Microsoft’s software business.

“I promise to support and encourage boldness by management in my role as a shareholder in any way I can,” Ballmer added.

Nadella penned a public response to Ballmer’s letter, thanking Ballmer for his support and wishing him well.

“As you embark on your new journey, I am sure that you will bring the same boldness, passion and impact to your new endeavors that you brought to Microsoft, and we wish you incredible success. I also look forward to partnering with you as a shareholder,” Nadella wrote. “On behalf of all of Microsoft and the Board of Directors, thank you.”

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