Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer today announced that he will retire within the year.

“I am proud of what we have achieved … I feel good about playing a role in that success and having committed 100 percent emotionally all the way,” Ballmer said in an email to employees. “We have delivered more profit and cash return to shareholders than virtually any other company in history.”

Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 as employee number 30, working his way up to to CEO in 2000. During his time at the company, Microsoft grew from from a $7.5 million business to a nearly $78 billion entity with roughly100,000 employees and more than 1 billion users.

From this point on, Ballmer will help guide a new CEO candidate search in tandem with a special committee chaired by Microsoft independent director and former Symantec CEO John Thompson; Microsoft co-founder and chairman Bill Gates, and Chairman of the Audit committee Chuck Noski, Chairman of the Compensation Committee Steve Luczo and executive headhunting firm Heidrick & Struggles International.