In his first public appearance since handing over Microsoft’s reins to incumbent CEO Satya Nadella, MBA dropout Steve Ballmer spoke to a packed house yesterday at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School.
Enthusiastic as ever, the exec chugged Diet Coke, bellowed cheerfully until he was red in the facial skin and sometimes bounded out of his seat for emphasis.
He looked unflinchingly back upon his 14 years as Microsoft’s leader, discussing what he could did differently while propounding career advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Listed below are five of the very most interesting things that he said:
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1. He was a shy kid. It may look unfathomable that the executive notorious for erupting into WWE-style hysterics during press events might describe himself his “painfully shy,” but Ballmer says that, until college, that was largely the case.
It wasn’t until he took on the role as team manager for Harvard’s football team that he learned to cope with unfriendly team members to be able to increase morale and coordinate a packed schedule. Now, Ballmer describes his leadership style as involving, energetic and passionate: “I am a salesman naturally. Don’t just seriously the voyage with me — believe!”
2. He doesn’t wish to be “cool.” While Apple may have cornered the marketplace on “cool,” Ballmer said — nausea air quotes — he envisions the Microsoft brand as more democratic, namely a proponent of “affordable, empowering technology for all.”
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In this vein, Ballmer said that the brands Microsoft could most desire to emulate are long-lasting and leading-edge educational institutions such as for example Oxford and Harvard.
3. He’ll catch another wave. Despite admittedly missing the ball on mobile opportunities, for example, Ballmer says that Microsoft is well-capitalized enough to keep with current initiatives and reposition itself for future waves of innovation.
“Take the world a decade from now,” he said. “You don’t think we’re likely to use devices that appear to be the devices that people have today?” Ballmer also regrets devoid of sooner married the hardware and software the different parts of Microsoft’s business.
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4. He questions Facebook’s WhatsApp acquisition. “Could it be a fad? Well, most likely not,” Ballmer said of WhatsApp, which Facebook purchased last month for a cool $19 billion. But that doesn’t indicate that any asset boasting 450 million users could — or should — fetch a comparable price, he said.
Ballmer, who’s no stranger to pricey acquisitions himself — Microsoft’s own $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia will be finalized in coming weeks — said he ultimately doesn’t know if the WhatsApp deal will end up being successful or not.
5. He still loves Microsoft. Ballmer has three children along with his wife, Connie, and considers Microsoft his fourth.
Just as a father rears his brood, Ballmer says, “If there’s something I don’t like about Microsoft, I should’ve changed it — I could’ve changed it.” Ballmer, who’s still a board member and owns four percent of the business, insists that it’ll bring him boundless pride to see Microsoft continue steadily to flourish even after having parted ways.
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