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Steve Ballmer boasts profitability, reveals personal living room push in Microsoft exit interview

post #1 of 47
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With Steve Ballmer's days left at Microsoft dwindling down, the outgoing CEO has participated in a new interview reflecting on his legacy, in which he boasts how profitable he made the company's business, and takes credit for the company's buzz-generating, but not particularly profitable, Xbox division.

Ballmer


Ballmer sat down for an interview with journalist Mary Jo Foley, who spoke with Microsoft's soon-to-depart chief executive for an exit interview with Fortune. In the discussion, Ballmer was particularly proud of the fact that he managed to double Microsoft's profits and triple its revenues under his watch -- a triumph he compared to Apple's own recent success.

"In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have," Ballmer said. "But in the last 13 years, I bet we've made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me."

The CEO also took credit for Microsoft's major push into the living room over the last 12 years with its Xbox franchise. This year marks its largest endeavor yet, with the launch of the new Xbox One gaming console, which Microsoft announced on Wednesday has sold 2 million units since it debuted last month.

While the Xbox has earned buzz in the console gaming market and sold tens of millions of units, it's mostly been a money losing operation for Microsoft. In particular, high failure rates with the Xbox 360 console cost the company over a billion dollars.

"I believe in accountability," Ballmer said. "I'm in. I'm accountable. I'll make this work -- not that I had to drive it -- but we had some bumps in the road. And it was important that I stay accountable, stay patient, and stay behind the decision that we made."

He also insisted that he's leaving Microsoft better than he found it, with the Redmond, Wash., company now "more focused" after his tenure. He attributed that to Microsoft falling from being a "complete leader" to a "leader and a challenger." Challengers, he said, have to be more focused to stay alive.



Ballmer announced his plans to retire from Microsoft in August, bringing to an end his 13-year reign over the software giant. The search for his successor remains ongoing.

He held his final company meeting in September, where he told 13,000 full-time employees in attendance that Microsoft has "unbelievable potential" in front of it. He also used the opportunity to take a few swipes at rival Apple, which he said is focused on being "fashionable," while Microsoft, he said, is about "doing more."

In recent years, Microsoft has seen poor performances of flagship products like Windows 8 -- disappointments that led to a pay cut for Ballmer in his final months at the company. Critics say Microsoft has failed to adapt to the modern mobile age, while Apple has found considerable success with its iPhone and iPad lineups.
post #2 of 47

So basically what he's basically saying is in the past 20yrs he really doesn't have much to show for. And, I think its quite asshole like to say he's responsible for the Xbox. Never mind the actually team that did this. 

 

Making money is one thing (which he did do), but shipping crappy products and making money is another thing. It may be good for the bottom line in the short term (which it seemed to be), but in the long run it hurts your brand. Just look where they are now....struggling a little now days to get a good product out the door with anything. 

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post #3 of 47
"In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have," Ballmer said. "But in the last 13 years, I bet we've made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me."

 

Mr. Ballmer, the question was, “Who do you think you are?”

 
"I believe in accountability," Ballmer said. "I'm in. I'm accountable. I'll make this work -- not that I had to drive it -- but we had some bumps in the road. And it was important that I stay accountable, stay patient, and stay behind the decision that we made."

 

Mr. Ballmer… the question was, “What gives you the right?”

 
 He also insisted that he’s leaving Microsoft better than he found it

 

And we who prefer Apple thank you for your interpretation.

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post #4 of 47
Complete douche-bag
post #5 of 47

Ballmer’s RDF is not nearly as good as the other Steve’s was.

post #6 of 47

"In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have," Ballmer said. "But in the last 13 years, I bet we've made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me."

 

.. he says just as he jumps off the chuck wagon before it plunges out of control over a cliff. Good luck to the next CEO who will be cleaning up the mess.

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post #7 of 47
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
Ballmer’s RDF is not nearly as good as the other Steve’s was.

 

Ballmer has a SEP field.

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post #8 of 47
This story was a good as spitting hot coffee out of my nose onto my screen...if not better.

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post #9 of 47
"But in the last 13 years, I bet we've made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me."

And that's the problem. If the focus had been on producing great products instead of making lots of money, you might have had a valuable legacy and Microsoft would have been in a great position moving forward. Instead, you're leaving Microsoft with a disaster in your OS, people abandoning your Office suite, a disaster in tablets, a history of failed MP3 players and phones, and an unenviable and questionable future. That, sir, is your legacy.
post #10 of 47
Employee: Steve Ballmer
Self-assessment: Completed

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #11 of 47
Well, at least his replacement won't have anything to live up to.
post #12 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

He also insisted that he's leaving Microsoft better than he found it, with the Redmond, Wash., company now "more focused" after his tenure. He attributed that to Microsoft falling from being a "complete leader" to a "leader and a challenger." Challengers, he said, have to be more focused to stay alive.
A challenger is someone who is not in a leadership position but is fighting to be in a leadership position, fighting someone's hold on something. How is going from a leader to a challenger a better position?

Leaders also have to be more focused to stay alive, the fact that he doesn't realise this just shows why he has "led" microsoft out of a leadership position.
post #13 of 47

"In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have," Ballmer said. "But in the last 13 years, I bet we've made more money than almost anybody on the planet. And that, frankly, is a great source of pride to me."

 

But what have you done lately? Nothing!!!!

post #14 of 47

I am just wondering if Ballmer actually believes what he is saying.  And are concerned that there is no mental hospital in the Puget Sound area where they can help mental disorders like his.

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post #15 of 47

You can also make money by selling rubber dogshit. But that isn't the point (nor that MS' share value been stagnant for forever.)

 

The point is that MS has been in decline for years now, not in the least because of their continued reliance on the Windows/Office cow, and their introduction of unsuccessful/unwanted products that simply undermine their core products - which are already in decline in the first place. 

 

All this has amounted, over the years, to MS becoming the laughing-stock of tech, especially when the obligatory comparisons to Apple are brought up by the media, and stupidly, by MS themselves. 

post #16 of 47
This guy is so delusional and self inflated. He would make a great politician. Hope he doesn't see that in his future...
post #17 of 47

Here is some of Microsoft realization under Ballmer direction:

 

  • Hotmail buyout, now in a steady decline ever since
  • WebTV, does anybody still know what it is?
  • WMA DRM, after M$ screwed all their partner, they finally kill it and screwed every consumer who made the mistake to buy DRM music. 
  • .NET development, what a mess. 
  • Bing, no comments
  • Skype Buyout, After Microsoft screwed them self with their designed not to be cross-platform Messenger, they never supported video conference on other platform beside windows, after 10 years of incompatibleness they finally prefer to buyout the competition instead of fixing their own shit. 
  • Xbox, the highest failing ratio from any consumers electronics out there. 
  • The original 10 000$ Surface computer table, even Microsoft want everything about it to disappear, since they have recycle the product name for another bad product.
  • Window Phone 6.5, 7, 8, Another big misdirecting mess from Microsoft.
post #18 of 47
Ballmer is a moron, but by Microsoft standards, he's excellent.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #19 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigMac2 View Post

Here is some of Microsoft realization under Ballmer direction:
  • Hotmail buyout, now in a steady decline ever since


  • WebTV, does anybody still know what it is?


  • WMA DRM, after M$ screwed all their partner, they finally kill it and screwed every consumer who made the mistake to buy DRM music. 


  • .NET development, what a mess. 


  • Bing, no comments


  • Skype Buyout, After Microsoft screwed them self with their designed not to be cross-platform Messenger, they never supported video conference on other platform beside windows, after 10 years of incompatibleness they finally prefer to buyout the competition instead of fixing their own shit. 


  • Xbox, the highest failing ratio from any consumers electronics out there. 


  • The original 10 000$ Surface computer table, even Microsoft want everything about it to disappear, since they have recycle the product name for another bad product.


  • Window Phone 6.5, 7, 8, Another big misdirecting mess from Microsoft.


How did you forget the buyout of the Andy Rubin startup Danger, Inc.? It gave birth to project Pink, also known as the Microsoft KIN.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #20 of 47

... and now he'll go home and roll in his money... and laugh.

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post #21 of 47
Why is it that when I click the Safari Reader button, the reader just displays "AppleInsider would like to thank its site sponsors"??? Can you guys tag your content appropriately for your readers?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #22 of 47
He is the one and only person I hate very much whom I've never even met... That's an achievement... There's just something about his interviews that got to me... Especially the one where he laughs the iPhone off... At that point I myself thought the iPhone would be a failure... I wasn't even interested in buying one... That interview got me so ticked off I went out and bought one in the second hand market... And have never left since... 1biggrin.gif
post #23 of 47

When people look back a decade or two from now, it will be clear that Microsoft was left behind as the world moved towards mobile computing. The Ballmer era will be a time when Microsoft floundered from a lack of vision. Googling Ballmer will bring up the video of him laughing at the iPhone introduction.

 

That Ballmer keeps referring to Apple's engineering innovations as 'fashion' tells me he still doesn't get it.

 

When I see the oddly-named and butt ugly Xbox One, I hear Jobs saying Microsoft had no taste. In the same interview, he also referred to MS as McDonald's.

 

It's going to be hard to turn that ugly ship around.

 

Watch the whole video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EJWWtV1w5fw

post #24 of 47
Completely off topic, but I had no idea!

Steve Ballmer Playlist Appearance on WMBR's Dinnertime Sampler radio show February 23, 2005

Steven A. Ballmer
CEO, Microsoft
Wednesday, February 23, 2005


  • Rocky - Theme
  • Sound of Music Soundtrack - Climb Every Mountain
  • Dione Warwick - I Say A Little Prayer For You
  • Rolling Stones - Start Me Up
  • Pippin - Theme
  • Survivor - Eye of the Tiger

http://web.mit.edu/echemi/www/ballmer.html
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post #25 of 47
A legend in his own mind.
post #26 of 47
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post
Steve Ballmer Playlist Appearance 
 
  • Pippin - Theme

 

It all makes sense now.

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post #27 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post
 

Ballmer’s RDF is not nearly as good as the other Steve’s was.


It's more effective than SJ's, only it works in reverse.  Instead of affecting everybody else in the area, it only affects Balmer.

post #28 of 47
This guy was always about the numbers not the experience. Windows 8 for instance is a turd. No plug-in for video playback? It is a messed up user experience to the nth degree.
post #29 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

It all makes sense now.

I just knew you'd like that one. Well, not like that one, but this one in the list.
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post #30 of 47
Ballmer is an idiot. He presided over the disastrous Windows Vista, the yawn-worthy Zune, the hot but not all that profitable Xbox, windows Phone--which no one uses, and the Surface, which is not selling anywhere near like they hoped.

I said it years ago: Apple did not Micro$oft in the 2000's that Micro$oft did to Apple in the 1990's. Apple came out with market-dominant products like the iPhone and iPad, and Microsoft tried to "compete" with them. First, they mocked them. Then, they copied them. Then they tried to out-Apple them by marketing their products as superior. All the while, they failed to understand that Apple's products were more than the sum of their parts. They had become household names. No one went shopping for a tablet. They looked for an iPad or a suitable alternative. Few looked for a smartphone---they looked for an iPhone or something like it. And Microshaft is still at it with their ridiculous Surface and and generic Windows tablet ads. But those are disaster, too, because Windows isn't sexy. M$ is in the unenviable position of having to advertise third party products that run its Windows, while at the same time eating the lunch of its hardware partners by offering products like the Surface.

What Microsoft SHOULD do (now that Monkey Boy is gone) is focus on Windows, Office and the xBox. They should kill all other hardware. They should totally redesign Internet Explorer to make it fast and secure. They should focus like a laser on UI and under-the-hood improvements. They should become on the of the dominant developers for Apple's iPad and iPhone, as well as Android. They should totally bail on Windows Phone. They'd make money hand over fist.
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post #31 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Steve Ballmer Playlist Appearance on WMBR's Dinnertime Sampler radio show February 23, 2005
 

 

Amazingly ironic and existential, in retrospect. 

The obscure Pippin track reveals this was not a mindless exercise on his part, he actually thought about this (shudder).

(Why yes, I have performed in two productions of said musical...)

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post #32 of 47

That actually wouldn't be a horrible song list if it were from 1982 instead of 2005.  

post #33 of 47

The CEO also took credit for Microsoft's major push into the living room over the last 12 years with its Xbox franchise. This year marks its largest endeavor yet, with the launch of the new Xbox One gaming console, which Microsoft announced on Wednesday has sold 2 million units since it debuted last month.

While the Xbox has earned buzz in the console gaming market and sold tens of millions of units, it's mostly been a money losing operation for Microsoft. In particular, high failure rates with the Xbox 360 console cost the company over a billion dollars.

"I believe in accountability," Ballmer said. "I'm in. I'm accountable. I'll make this work -- not that I had to drive it -- but we had some bumps in the road. And it was important that I stay accountable, stay patient, and stay behind the decision that we made."

 

 

 

None of Ballmer’s boasty huffing and puffing makes any difference if the Xbox is unprofitable. It doesn’t matter how popular it is if it isn’t making the company any money.

 

Now I’d understand if it’s a “gateway” product that instead makes money for *other* areas of Microsoft’s business. If so, that’s great. But even in that case, smart money has to ask: are those *other* services and products making up for the costs to manufacture/market/research the Xbox?  I’d certainly hope so. Otherwise, the incoming CEO might be looking to do a “reset” of the Xbox’s respective division at MS. 

post #34 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Ballmer is a moron, but by Microsoft standards, he's excellent.

He gets to retire at 57 with a net worth of 18 Billion. I would argue Microsoft was the moron. At 57 with 18 Billion he looks like the rockstar. 

post #35 of 47
I've heard different, conflicting accounts about Ballmer's stance on Xbox. Originally, I read that he was dead set against making a console and wanted to sell "Windows OS for Game Consoles" to companies like Dell. Other accounts say he was a supporter of Microsoft getting into the hardware business. Not sure which is correct, or if he switched over to the winning team. I recall reading one of those accounts from an interview with either J Allard or Robbie Bach.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #36 of 47
Bullmer was clueless but I still find Gates more irritating.
post #37 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

How did you forget the buyout of the Andy Rubin startup Danger, Inc.? It gave birth to project Pink, also known as the Microsoft KIN.

From all I've read the original vision behind the Kin was actually supposed to be a pretty decent handset but got stolen out from under J. Allard by Andy Lees at which point it went into the crapper:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/02/life-and-death-of-microsoft-kin-the-inside-story/
post #38 of 47
Apple's success, after the return of Steve Jobs to the helm, was largely due to Jobs skills and genius, but I have to say that Ballmer's incompetence left a vacuum for Apple to build a strong momentum in the iPod arena before MS could respond with the Zune. Previously, MS could always blow away superior products with advertising and position.

Then, Apple was able to do a repeat with the iPhone because MS, thanks to Ballmer's incompetence, took five years to respond with Win 8 phone OS. In the meantime, Google filled in with a product where MS would have formerly done so, and effectively filled the role of a competitor leaving MS to scramble for the number 3 or 4 slot remaining.

Finally, while MS was more timely to market with the Surface tablet, to address Apple's iPad, MS seemed to come to market with a rushed concept, rushed & confusing advertising, little 3rd-party app support, and no ecosystem. It was as if Ballmer expected the Windows supporters to buy into the idea of the surface and trust that in time MS would build out the essential structure later. I don't think MS/Ballmer realized that Apple had a complete package behind the iPad from DAY ONE: The apps were already there by the tens of thousands, the Customer Service was there as second-to-none. The concept and the advertising were integrated and synched, while the iCloud and iPhone and OSX supported each other in a tightly unified system (that even included Windows computers).
Edited by Macky the Macky - 12/11/13 at 7:14pm
post #39 of 47
I think they may have made a strategic error with the new Xbox One: as the kids joked on last week's South Park "The graphics are definitely like 10% better than the old Xbox." Why is that strategic? Because it leaves room for the iPad to catch up.

They also made a mistake changing Windows and Office so drastically. Yes, things can't stay the same forever, but on the other hand, a big advantage they had with Windows is that most people already knew how to use it, so it was easier to stay than to switch platforms. Now with Windows 8.1 (yes I own it) it's hard to tell what's going on half the time. At a certain point it's no more difficult to switch than learn the new version of Windows.
post #40 of 47
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

They also made a mistake changing Windows and Office so drastically.

I remember the introduction of Vista, and the outcry over the missing Start button. And the Office Ribbon; one of their most, utterly stupid design, implementation I've ever seen.
"See her this weekend. You hit it off, come Turkey Day, maybe you can stuff her."
- Roger Sterling
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