Ballmer responds to calls for him to quit, talks profits

By Tom Warren, on 29th Jun 11 10:16 pm with 72 Comments

Steve Ballmer introduces Windows Phone 7

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer responded to calls for him to quit his position on Wednesday.

Ballmer spoke at a lunch time appearance at the Rotary Club of Seattle on Wednesday. “You tell me if I have the energy, conviction, passion … or drive,” Ballmer said to an audience member who questioned him on calls for him to quit Microsoft. Ballmer also expressed the importance of Windows. “You cut me open and saw what was inside: Windows. Windows. Windows. Windows,” Ballmer said in an audio recording obtained by GeekWire. “Our company was born on the back of Windows. Windows underpins a huge percentage of all of our success, all of our profitability, all of the important things that we do. So, how important is it? Very, would be a very fair answer.”

The Seattle Times reports that Ballmer appeared to discuss Microsoft’s earnings for the 2011 fiscal year. Microsoft is officially scheduled to report them on July 21:

“At Microsoft we believe in that opportunity. We’ve investing in those opportunities. We’re building the products that we hope are the difference makers. We’ve been very fortunate. We’ve made bets. We’ve built products. We’ve made the difference. There’s a reason why we’ll do almost $70 billion in revenue this year, and we’ll make over 20-whatever, $26-27 billion in profits. There are reasons — we made the right bets. And we’re making the bets for the future.”

Ballmers positive outlook on the company’s upcoming earnings would also explain why Microsoft’s stock price has steadily risen this week. peaking at nearly $26 compared to $24 a week ago. Ballmer also revealed what he sees as the future of computers. “No. 1, your computer will learn to recognize you, your voice, your fingers,” he said. Ballmer also focused on touchscreens and touch computing. “The second biggest thing I think is my computer will learn to understand me,” Ballmer said. “If I say to my administrative assistant, ‘Get me ready for my trip down to Rotary,’ she’s brilliant” and she knows to get him directions, notes and a biography of who he will be meeting with, he said. “If I go to my computer and say, ‘Get me ready for Rotary,’ it has no idea where to look.” Ballmer pointed towards Microsoft’s investments in Bing as part of the idea of better search.

Calls for Ballmer to be removed as CEO of Microsoft came initially from influential hedge fund manager David Einhorn. He called for Steve Ballmer to step down from Microsoft. “Give someone else a chance” said Einhorn. “His continued presence is the biggest overhang on Microsoft’s stock,” he added. Einhorn is the president of Greenlight Capital and an infamous short seller. The hedge fund manager has previous held short positions on Lehman Brothers and Allied Capital, both went bankrupt during the “credit crunch” woes.

Despite Einhorn’s words, Microsoft’s board stood by Steve Ballmer. Microsoft’s nine-person board, including Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, supports Ballmer. A number of other investors have not shared Einhorn’s call for Ballmer to be removed. Microsoft’s stock has suffered since Ballmer has been in charge but most analysts and investors feel it would be a hard task to find someone adequate to replace him.

Update: Article corrected to accurately reflect Ballmer’s speech.

  • Ronit Kumar

    Ballmer may not represent Microsoft as Bill Gates does, but he still is a very important figure. The current metro UI , Xbox Kinect, Surface 2 etc have all come from under his reign, and he can definitely move Microsoft forward because he is passionate and loves working at Microsoft. 

    Lets not forget that Win 7 sits on the base of Vista and the Longhorn dream was also a part of the ambitious Vista project. The only problem I saw with Win Vista was it was ahead of its time. With Win 8 on the horizon, its time Ballmer gets the plaudits he deserves.

    • Anonymous

      He also killed and otherwise awesome Courier dream.. don’t forget that

    • Guest

      Indeed.  But with ARM support for Windows 8 and the new Tile based UI, isn’t it now obvious why? A new form factor with a distinct UI did not fit in with the Windows 8 and 3 Screens & a Cloud strategy.  I’ve no doubt that we’ll see elements of Courier show up in the combined experienced offered by Windows 8 & Office 15.

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      and thats the point of such concepts from Microsoft.  Microsoft shares a ‘vision’ and hope their partners will help produce the vision.  Microsoft is a software company that dips into hardware concepts in hopes that partners will help develop the dream.  Microsoft didn’t “kill” courier, rather they adjusted their vision for the future and I think Windows 8 is that future.  Now we must hope hardware partners will develop something that will benefit this new vision.

    • Guest

      LOL, no. Courier was killed, along with its parents, Bach and “J” Allard. Why? Because the Windows group won out over the Entertainment unit. And the Windows group was able to do that because Bach failed to convince HP that MS was on the right track, and HP ended up walking and going WebOS instead. The Courier was late, mostly vaporware, and would have been ridiculously expensive to produce given its dual screen design. There wasn’t some elegant plan here to go W8. Waiting for W8 became necessary because they had jack squat otherwise.

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      and thats the point of such concepts from Microsoft.  Microsoft shares a ‘vision’ and hope their partners will help produce the vision.  Microsoft is a software company that dips into hardware concepts in hopes that partners will help develop the dream.  Microsoft didn’t “kill” courier, rather they adjusted their vision for the future and I think Windows 8 is that future.  Now we must hope hardware partners will develop something that will benefit this new vision.

    • Anonymous

      As much as i liked the concept video of it…after seeing win8 it was the best decision to kill the courier. It would have been a tablet with compromises like the current crop of android and ipads. Win 8 will be the first tablet with no compromises and will unify xbox, WP7 and the cloud. Its going to be a beast.

    • Guest

      The question is, now that iPad is synonymous with tablet to most consumers and has a huge lead in share, apps, and content, much of it sewn up via exclusive deals Apple was able to secure given their early success here, is anybody going to care? Will OEM’s get behind it, or will they continue to lead with Android or WebOS and only provide minimal W8 tablet support with unimpressive hardware choices? Will consumers buy it or go with the “leader”? Apple isn’t standing still and neither is Google. By the time W8 ships, both will have rev’d the current releases.

      MS failed to maintain focus on tablets. That provided the opening for Apple, who MS again hopelessly misjudged from a competitive perspective. And now it’s going to be very difficult and costly to change momentum. Sound a lot like iPhone?

    • Guest

      The question is, now that iPad is synonymous with tablet to most consumers and has a huge lead in share, apps, and content, much of it sewn up via exclusive deals Apple was able to secure given their early success here, is anybody going to care? Will OEM’s get behind it, or will they continue to lead with Android or WebOS and only provide minimal W8 tablet support with unimpressive hardware choices? Will consumers buy it or go with the “leader”? Apple isn’t standing still and neither is Google. By the time W8 ships, both will have rev’d the current releases.

      MS failed to maintain focus on tablets. That provided the opening for Apple, who MS again hopelessly misjudged from a competitive perspective. And now it’s going to be very difficult and costly to change momentum. Sound a lot like iPhone?

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      Courier was a design concept… e.g. not a leg in for Microsoft to get into the PC hardware market.  Microsoft has made many of these concepts throughout their lifetime.  Keep that in mind next time.

    • VD

      That incompetent fool only knows one thing: Windows.

      Windows is a god damn OS, not everything has to be named after it. Naming everything Windows lacks originality and makes some people reticent to it just because they heard ‘Windows’.

      Why the hell do they call it Windows phone? When ia the last time you have seen a window on a phone? Maybe Tiles would be a better name (I am joking here obviously).

      MS stop calling everything Windows! Just think creative once in your life.

    • Test1ngi23

      “Windows” is Microsoft’s equivalent to Apple’s “i”.

    • Guest

      Except of course that MS has literally dozens of products, the majority in fact, with no Windows preface. But other than that, your insight is as keen as ever.

    • Impartial

      I agree but the best bit of courier we will defo see in win8 tablets. If MS created their own hardware they would have fucked off too many partners, and dual screen, although nice and cool, would only appeal to a few hundred thousand users (including me) but MS is a company that needs millions of customers to make it worth their while

    • Et Jay

      The only problem with Win Vista is people hated it.

    • Guest

      And it was slow, and resource intensive, and incomplete, and …

    • Guest

      He’s important alright. For example, he:

      - Cut the stock price in half over a decade- Was completely wrong on iPhone, thereby losing a ten year head start in mobile- Turned around and repeated that mistake with iPad, sending Windows revenue into decline and  collapsing the stock – Invested $20B and lost $8B to create a 10% margin Xbox business- Spent $100B on buybacks, almost all of it at prices higher than today’s- Lost the enterprise virtualization market to a storage manufacturer- Waited far too late to respond to Google in search- Lost the multi-decade revenue, profit, and marketcap lead over Apple- Is about to lose the marketcap lead to IBM as well- Was in charge as MS dropped off the list of top 10 admired companies- Lost the lead in ecosystems to Apple and Google- Let MS become synonymous with the past and Google and Apple the future- Approved Kin, which ended up losing more than $1B- Personally oversaw the failed WP7 launch and update mess, with the head of mobile reporting directly to him- Brought us Vista. Nuff said – Lost $8 billion on Search so far, with annual losses in excess of $2 billion- Wasted $6B buying aQuantive- Spent $8B for Skype even though MS had products in this area for a decade- Took four years to respond to iPhone and at least two and maybe three before MS’s first response to iPad?  – Has driven employee approval into the ground- Took MS from zero debt to $13B and climbing- Lost the lead in developer interest to Apple on the client app side and Google on the internet one- Allowed an online book reseller to become the leader in cloud based infrastructure as a service- Let Mac outpace the PC industry every quarter for five years running- Lost the lead in mobile data synchronization, even though MS was a pioneer in this area (1996) and most leading vendors, including Apple, licensed ActiveSync?

    • Guest

      He’s important alright. For example, he:

      - Cut the stock price in half over a decade- Was completely wrong on iPhone, thereby losing a ten year head start in mobile- Turned around and repeated that mistake with iPad, sending Windows revenue into decline and  collapsing the stock – Invested $20B and lost $8B to create a 10% margin Xbox business- Spent $100B on buybacks, almost all of it at prices higher than today’s- Lost the enterprise virtualization market to a storage manufacturer- Waited far too late to respond to Google in search- Lost the multi-decade revenue, profit, and marketcap lead over Apple- Is about to lose the marketcap lead to IBM as well- Was in charge as MS dropped off the list of top 10 admired companies- Lost the lead in ecosystems to Apple and Google- Let MS become synonymous with the past and Google and Apple the future- Approved Kin, which ended up losing more than $1B- Personally oversaw the failed WP7 launch and update mess, with the head of mobile reporting directly to him- Brought us Vista. Nuff said – Lost $8 billion on Search so far, with annual losses in excess of $2 billion- Wasted $6B buying aQuantive- Spent $8B for Skype even though MS had products in this area for a decade- Took four years to respond to iPhone and at least two and maybe three before MS’s first response to iPad?  – Has driven employee approval into the ground- Took MS from zero debt to $13B and climbing- Lost the lead in developer interest to Apple on the client app side and Google on the internet one- Allowed an online book reseller to become the leader in cloud based infrastructure as a service- Let Mac outpace the PC industry every quarter for five years running- Lost the lead in mobile data synchronization, even though MS was a pioneer in this area (1996) and most leading vendors, including Apple, licensed ActiveSync?

  • Renzo

    Ballmer reminds me 1) Drew Carey’s brother Steve on the show and 2) the Zodiac killer from the movie of the same name

    same guy i think

  • Anonymous

    “Microsoft’s stock has suffered since Ballmer has been in charge but most
    analysts and investors feel it would be a hard task to find someone
    adequate to replace him”

    So he is indispensable? No?

  • Anonymous

    “Microsoft’s stock has suffered since Ballmer has been in charge but most
    analysts and investors feel it would be a hard task to find someone
    adequate to replace him”

    So he is indispensable? No?

    • zzz

      I sure the janitor down the hall would do just fine.

  • http://twitter.com/jimmyfal Jimmy Fallon

    When I read Ballmers quotes, I can hear his voice. He is a monumental presence. The stock blew chuncks when Gates left and never recovered because there a big f-ing company man. Things are changing now and fast. And Ballmer WILL have the last laugh. Promise.

    • Guest

      I’m guessing you’re not a shareholder, so empty promises are easy to make.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      Well I am a shareholder (at least for now).  Balmer comes off as a big loudmouth highschool football coach which is why he rubs people the wrong way compared to the more sophisticated presence of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs.

      However he’s a lot smarter than people realize.  He may not be a cool visionary but he’s a great businessman and has done a good job making the right partnerships and  has kept the company extremely profitable year after year.  Which is really the bottom line.

    • Joe05

      I’ve never thought Balmer was an idiot, he’s had some tuff times but overall Microsoft’s on solid ground, I await Apple with out Steve Jobs which will come sooner than later.

    • Guest

      Solid ground? Their historical exclusivity with OEMs is falling apart. Every major PC OEM now openly supports a competitor (or in HP’s case their own OS) for at least some significant part of their business. Almost all of them are leading with Android on their tablets. Office is facing major competition from Google as well as simply new ways of getting work done. Servers faces head winds from both competitors like Linux but now also the cloud. PC themselves face pressure from mobile and tablets. And MS is now way behind in both those even though it had a big head start. Growth is below 10% company wide. That’s your idea of solid?

    • Joe05

      Yes they are, what can I say the world changes and Microsoft has to change with it and they are, major OEM’s support  a competitor in what? Android? I don’t believe any Tablet manufacturer outside of Apple is seeing any kind of success in this segment, hp has Web OS and they have an outside chance but they’re at a disadvantage against Apple without a strong and committed  retail chain to drive sales.

      Speaking of hp, it looks as though hp may be working closely with Microsoft on a windows 8 tablet to coincide with the development of Web OS, makes you wonder why hp would bother helping a “competing” tablet OS manufacturer and not simply do a Windows 8 desktop? most likely they have a good idea of what’s coming and want to be in position to take advantage of a future sales trend.

      Please don’t bring Google docs vs office into this, how long has Google docs been out now? 4 years and they have very little market share or even more important actual paying customers. Office has exceeded past sales records and Office 365, Microsoft’s in the cloud office system had 400.000 customers on board during the beta much less what will happen now that it’s generally available and Redmond will push for sales.

      As for servers in the cloud, yep that’s the future and well Microsoft can help you there too, would you like a hybrid set up, Server on premises with  additional cloud features? or a complete Cloud only option.

      Want  cloud only power, Windows Azure is for you, just ask Apple… they use it.

    • Guest

      And that’s the problem. The world is changing and at an increasing pace. Meanwhile MS, for the most part, is reacting to the moves of competitors rather than leading and making them play catch up. W8 for tablets. Office 365. Azure. All reactive. Add Bing, Hyper V, and a long list of others. Even where MS has been early, notably mobile and tablets, they let that lead be snatched away with barely a fight. And now have been forced to react and respond, and it has taken them years in each just to get the first response out (we’re still waiting for the iPad one).

    • Bburke33609

      Yep. And with every OEM MS is still the preferred client OS by what, maybe 15-20 time difference to the next competing OS. 

      How many businesses are jumping to have all of their data in the cloud? Server shipments were up 15% last year. I’ve personally used it for data replication and backup but can’t see any business really fefling comfortable with completely doing away with their own it infrastructure this way.

    • Guest

      When you go from 100% preference to 85%-90% now, and perhaps 70-80% in another year or two, it’s not just the up the 20% that you lose. It’s also that OEMs will use the existence of a credible alternative to drive down your pricing on the remaining 80%. Indeed, that the far more serious outcome from a financial perspective.

    • Guest

      A great businessman would have used MS’s far greater financial resources and market dominance (vs competitors) in 2000 to position the company in new markets such that it would still dominate in 2011. Instead, he pissed tens of billions down the toilet, with the result that Apple is now larger, more profitable, and considered *the* tech leader along with Google, while MS is generally seen as a laggard.

    • http://twitter.com/oolong2 oolong2

      So is Apple now the barameter by which other companies are measured by?  If Apple does well Microsoft must be doing poorly?

      Apple had wild success with the iPod then successfully tapped into the next smartphone wave and found a new market with the iPad.

      The reason why there is any perception that Microsoft isn’t doing well is because people are stuck in the 1990s Mac vs PC war.

      Then suddenly everyone is surprised every time Microsoft reports huge profits quarter after quarter.

      “How can this be?….  Microsoft is still making billions and billions?  But… but.. How is that possible when the bloggers say they have no iPad?”

    • Guest

      It’s certainly one of the most important ones, particularly for a tech company. And especially as MS is a competitor in every market that Apple serves. And yes, Apple’s success is by definition coming at MS’s expense. If Mac share continues to grow strongly, as it has since Vista, Windows growth is capped or at least under pressure. If iPhone continues to dominate with Android, MS is locked out of an important market for the future, and one it spent ten years pursuing before Apple wiped them out with its first effort. If iPad sales continue to explode to the upside, MS loses some PC sales and is again shut out of an important market for the future; one that it again pioneered for a decade before losing to Apple’s first effort, and one it said itself would replace a great number of PCs. If Apple has twice as much cash as MS and continues to add to that at several times the rate of MS, then Apple can outbid MS for literally any company important for the future. If their stock continues to aim for the stars while MS’s nosedives, Apple is better able to recruit and retain the talent it needs, and it can pay them with stock instead of money, because, imagine if you will, their stock actually goes up. at several times the rate of MS.

      The reason there’s a perception that MS isn’t doing well, is because MS has had its ass kicked by Apple and Google, and VMware, and Salesforce. Even Oracle has been more successful at creating new profit centers and growing revenue and profits at a faster clip. MS’s cash cows are showing signs of maturity.

    • Bburke33609

      But Apple and MS both had large increases in sales because the worldwide pc market grew by 20% last year. This isn’t a technological death match. Both companies are doing really well. No matter what anyone says here the facts will remain that MS and Apple are both massively profitable for the foreseeable future.

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      MS’ two “cash” cows, Office and Windows, have both provided MS with record sales and qtrs throughout the year. Furthermore, the only market that Apple is winning despite MS efforts is in the music industry. MS doesn’t show a good story right now to compete with the iTunes market. However, the phone and Tablet markets will be dominated by MS in the near future (read: 18 months).

  • Balmergottago

    “Our company was born on the back of Windows. Windows underpins a huge percentage of all of our success, all of our profitability, all of the important things that we do. So, how important is it? Very, would be a very fair answer.”

    Which is exactly why he should resign. He’s had more than a decade to lead the company into major new areas and diversify its revenue and profits streams. Instead, the majority of the company’s revenue and more than 100% of its profits come from the same three things he inherited: Windows, Office, Servers. Compare that to Apple, who has now created three entirely new and massive revenue/profit centers over the same period, and is now larger, more valuable, and growing faster, as a result.

    • StockTrader

      VERY GOOD.   

      I am sure you will get the attack of the fanboys who can not accept that MS is not perfect, and fair to realize how much better it could be/ could have been.   Apples success has come from willingness to :”eat its young”, to cannibalize the sales of its own product with new products, killing the iPod with the iPhone, the Macbook with MacAir, and the MacAir with iPad.   Ballmer has been so tied to keeping the cash cow of Window flowing he missed all the opportunities to innovate.   And MS future is not what it should have been.   

    • Joe05

      Jeez your killing me with the drama, I give Apple credit for the iPhone , but the iPad is still a question mark and I don’t consider products like the MacBook air innovative, yes it’s pretty but hardly bleeding edge especially inside.

      Apple’s biggest innovation has always been it’s marketing, the best social and expectation engineering outside of the NSA/CIA.

    • Guest

      That iPad question mark is forecast to bring in more than $20B of revenue and about $8B of profit this year alone. Or more profit that any new MS venture since Ballmer took over. And they did that on less than $1.5B a year in R&D, compared to $9B for MS. Just sayin.

    • A Fan

      Still question mark???????????? What are you smoking???????????
      25 million iPad in just 14 months and a expected 12 more in the next quarter.   No question mark about it, only multiply exclamation marks for this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      It is not marketing, people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work.  This is what Apple does and it is the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. 

    • Guest

      If you think Apple’s marketing isn’t a significant factor in the success of their products, then I want some of whatever you’re smoking.

    • StockTrader

      Yes apple marketing is very good because like the product Apple builds, they too are true to values of the company and expresses the simplicity of well design products.  Though even in 1984 Apple marketing was great but great marketing alone was not enough until the product match the marketing.   

    • http://twitter.com/charms55 Mark Richey

      10 years is nothing in the life of this dynamic segment. All this being said, Ballmer has overseen acquisitions and partnerships that are just beginning to bear fruit and through the integration of devices he may very well have the last laugh. We’ll see with the next version of Windows Phone, which to me is a make-or-break moment, who is right and who is wrong…or whether the answer is less clear. Call me a fanboy? No. I have used both Apple and Winodws-based products. Begrudgingly got an iPhone when I needed it and the newer Androids were not yet available here. But we have seen this before and knock it or not, MS has positioned themselves in the catbird seat to take advantage of iPhone fatigue and Android disillusionment. Windows 7 still outsold all other OS, and with that installation base and MS devotion to backwards campatibility, it is likely Windows 8 will do the same.

    • http://twitter.com/charms55 Mark Richey

      10 years is nothing in the life of this dynamic segment. All this being said, Ballmer has overseen acquisitions and partnerships that are just beginning to bear fruit and through the integration of devices he may very well have the last laugh. We’ll see with the next version of Windows Phone, which to me is a make-or-break moment, who is right and who is wrong…or whether the answer is less clear. Call me a fanboy? No. I have used both Apple and Winodws-based products. Begrudgingly got an iPhone when I needed it and the newer Androids were not yet available here. But we have seen this before and knock it or not, MS has positioned themselves in the catbird seat to take advantage of iPhone fatigue and Android disillusionment. Windows 7 still outsold all other OS, and with that installation base and MS devotion to backwards campatibility, it is likely Windows 8 will do the same.

    • Joe05

      Well yes it’s Windows but….Windows means different things, there’s the Client, then there’s Windows sever, Windows Azure three different products called Windows that serve different Markets and in some actuality is really a different platform that happens to share the Windows name in itself a valuable brand worth billions, I would do it the same way.

      Office continues to break sales records and generate big profits, Office 365 is brand new but already has 400.000 customers when it’s just out of Beta, way ahead of Google docs with a fraction of the users and even less paying for any services.

      Xbox division turned a profit and it seems big things are in store shortly.

    • Ballmergottago

      There’s been the client and the server for decades. The cloud so far doesn’t look like it’s going to open up new opportunities for either. In fact, it looks like they’ll be forced to swap out very high margin client and server sales for much lower margin cloud subscription deals.

      Office, same thing. Is the cloud opening up a bunch of new opportunities, or is it mostly replacing existing?

      You can figure out new creative ways to milk the same cow for only so long. Eventually, you have to create a new cows. Do you see IBM still getting the majority of its revenue from tabulating machines or even mainframes? No. Is HP still getting its from test and measurement devices? No. It doesn’t even have that division anymore. Is Oracle still 100% reliant on database sales for its profits? No. You get the picture.

      Why do you think this stock has sucked so incredibly badly for a decade? Because nobody sees where the new cows are going to come from so long as Ballmer is running the show.

    • Bburke33609

      Have you looked at the subscription rates for Office 365? To get a subscription with a copy of office to use locally it’s 16$ a month or 192$ a year. People spend money on Office happily. I think that the webapps (tried it and it isn’t as good as a local copy) will probably help sell software more than hurt it.

    • MSblog

      Xbox is no longer losing money but it still 6 billion in the whole.   

    • Bburke33609

      But … Apple had nowhere to go but up.

      Are you really saying that MS should have focused on less profitable ventures over the meat and potatoes of their profits? If they would have spent a massive amount of focus on other things and not pushed Office in the current direction and not focus on expanding the enterprise class software to the extent they have, where would they be now? Maybe they would have revolutionized the computer industry, or maybe they would have crapped the bed and let corporate IT houses start to go elsewhere.

      No matter what everyone is saying about mobile it still comes down to purhasing decisions being made every 2 years. I know plenty of people who have bought iphones and then got an android next time and vice versa. What it comes down to when you gauge MS’ position in the mobile and tablet form factors is that they are late to the game but building a hell of an ecosystem, including services that looks really strong. Everything they are doing may not be revolutionary but will create a highly competitive platform. I don’t see anyone else putting together anything that will be as complete once Mango and the fall refresh of xbox and reorganization of zune and tv subscription services.

      Everyone wants to blame Ballmer for every misstep and no credit for any success.

    • Ballmergottago

      Do you have any idea how much Ballmer has blown on new business ventures and annual R&D since 2000? Let me help you out here. MS has spent on average 10x Apple for the last decade on R&D. And they they blown tens of billions on new ventures, everything from TV, to gaming, to search. In fact, MS ha likely spent more on TV alone, that Apple spent creating iPod, iPhone, and iPad.

    • StockTrader

      “But … Apple had nowhere to go but up.”
      And up it went.  And up, up and up to now being worth a 100 billion dollars more as a company the Microsoft.  

    • OMG55

      Revenue Streams Let See: Xbox, Kinect, Win 7, Office, $5/HTC device running android, New patent deal with Velocity Micro to collect more money on devices running Android, apps/bing for the ipad, bing on Blackberry’s, Bing’s search engine has increased 14% this year, Sky will generate more revenue. C’MON MAN!

    • Ballmergottago

      Xbox is still about -$6B lifetime to date. Kinect has sold well, but may or may not be profitable. But even if it is we’re talking a rounding error for MS overall. W7, yeah nice success after the failure of Vista. Not a new revenue or profit stream. Just a new version of an existing product. Office, ditto. $5/HTC device running Android, please. They lost $1B on Kin alone, and another .5B on Danger. Mobile has probably lost in excess of $2B just in the past two years, and that’s counting any patent revenue from Android. Bing has lost more than $6B so far, with no sign of a turnaround. So yeah, some relatively slow growing revenue there but deeply unprofitable.

      Sorry, no comparison to Apple. At far less cost, Jobs has now done three times (iPod, iPhone, iPad) what Ballmer has failed to do once: create a new business for the company that is large enough to materially diversify existing revenue and profit streams. And don’t even start with the “but, Apple was smaller so it was easier”. Each of these businesses are now enormous even by MS standards.

  • Anonymous

    David Einhorn can go stick his head in a hole.  If he doesn’t want to buy MS stock that is his choice.  The success of the company over the past couple years has been undeniable and every product line is surging ahead.  If revenues are really going to hit $70 billion this year with $26 billion in profit, then there is absolutely no reason for him to step down.  That’s an 11.4% increase in revenue and a 30% increase in profit.

    • Justthefacts

      You might want to do some research. He’s one of the few top hedge managers who *did* buy the stock. Most have just left it for dead. And he makes a number of good points for why Ballmer should go. if the board was doing its job, it should be listening and trying to understand his perspective. Because without Einhorn’s buying the stock, it will continue to decline. And as they have now belatedly found out, a declining stock results in poor morale, a need to replace stock compensation with cash, and a generally negative perception of the company and its management in many circles that matter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000678662470 Vincent Haakmat

    Microsoft may not be an exciting company, but it sure as hell is a stable company. I guess one needs to look at its track record and will undoubtedly agree, that amids all these other tech giants, Microsoft has been the only steady hand so far.And that takes someone with a special vision. Not everyone can be Steve Jobs, but not everyone can be as smart as Steve Ballmer either. So let the man finish what he started before calling for his ousting.

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      Not exciting?  Have you even heard of Kinect?… one of the most exciting things to happen to gaming and the PC market in years.

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      Not exciting?  Have you even heard of Kinect?… one of the most exciting things to happen to gaming and the PC market in years.

    • Guest

      “So let the man finish what he started before calling for his ousting.”

      You mean you want to let him destroy the company completely before yanking him?

    • https://parithon.startssl.com/ Anthony

      Now that their last qtr earnings are out you can eat
      your own words… 35% growth over last year; yup, failing miserably.

  • Guest

    The fact is that today many investors, both part-time and amatuer as well as professional money managers, overlook solid businesses with actual revenue and profits  – these are companies like Intel and Microsoft to name only a very few.    Instead, they are excited by the potential of new entrants like Groupon or Linkedin – companies who very business models are easily replicated, often show little or no profitability and have yet to stand the test of time. 

    • Joe05

      One day we will look back upon this time when solid fundamentals were ignored in favor of vague intangibles with no profits, heavy debt loads , and sexy would and could drive the stock price.

      Go figure.

    • Guest

      Except that Apple is the most valuable tech company today and their fundamentals are fantastic.

      They make more revenue than MS. More profit. They’re growing at 6-7 times the rate of MS. They have nearly twice as much cash on the BS after accounting for taxes due on MS’s mostly foreign holdings. Their revenue and profit per employee are far higher. They spend 1/7th as much on R&D to create that. And their stock is cheaper relative to growth.

      MS’s valuation seems pretty generous based on their slow growth and failures.

    • Tom

      He didn’t say that Apple wasn’t.

      I see four companies mentioned: Intel and Microsoft being undervalued (true), Groupon and Linkedin being overvalued (also true).  Not a word about Apple.

    • Guest

      I included Apple because the suggestion was that the market wasn’t paying attention to fundamentals. The most valuable stock in tech is Apple, and clearly it’s fundamentals are terrific. Ergo, that suggestion is bullshit.

  • Anonymous

    Microsoft spends much more on R&D than other tech companies like Apple, but I don’t think Ballmer has the vision to know what products to create from all the Microsoft research. In any case, if Ballmer can get the tablet and phone market going, Ballmer will be at Microsoft for as long as he wants.

  • Truth

    A year after win 7 is win 8 and a year after that is win 9…. they are all the sam and cost too much.  Switch to Linux and free yourself from windows slavery.

    • Joe05

      You’re so funny, I knew you had to be either a Mac fan boy, or an evergreen Linux fan, I have a Macbook pro which cost me over two large and of course a few Windows 7 machines including my favorite Think pad notebook. Ironically after trying a few different versions of Linux I’ve come tot he realization that I would rather pay for the Macbook pro which in itself is about 30 percent to expensive for what you really get, and I happily pay for my Windows 7 licenses vs getting something that the best feature that it has is it’s free.

    • Wakethefup

      Yeah, I love issuing cryptic instructions from a command prompt whenever I have to do something non trivial. It’s the bomb. And I really like when I spend a few hours to make the OS look less ugly, and then have all that wiped out on the next update. It’s fun and productive.

    • Anonymous

      yeah because i can work in 3dsmax and play videogames in linux :) thanks for the advice, i will do what you say /s

      if you want to do that, then YOU do it. people should use what they want, its not slavery is freedom of using whatever they want.

      and if you work and you get money nothing would cost too much.  “cost too much” its a relative thing, some people get expensive cars and houses. for them windows would mean nothing for their wallet.

      and second, linux doesn’t have the same software windows. or do you want people to replace 3dsmax and alot of plugins for it, and well alot of videogames because “windows slavery” crap?.

      grow up and if you want to use linux use it. people like using windows and they are happy like me.

  • Anonymous

    Steve Ballmer is a competent businessman yet not a visionary; he follows along the path of success created by others before him. As for software, the current environment is difficult since the industry has become infected by people who believe themselves entitled to software; any software, as a (“free”) entitlement. Notwithstanding the 1000s of hours required to write software, the linux zealots demand everything for free and if they do not get it, they plagiarize it as an “open-source” alternative.