Ballmer At Final Analysts’ Meeting As Microsoft CEO: Cheer For It
The tech world made one step closer to the end of an era Thursday as Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer—who in August announced his impending retirement—gave his last speech as Microsoft CEO at the company’s annual analyst meeting in Bellevue, Wash. And although Ballmer has been infamous for his wild and crazy cheerleader-type antics, this time he was all business.
We’ve built a heck of a good company,” Ballmer thoughtfully said as he spoke of the status of Microsoft’s current business.
In fact, Ballmer made clear his preparations to walk away are well in place by speaking to the audience as an investor rather than the head honcho:
I won’t talk as a CEO,” he said. “I want to talk as an investor. After I retire I’m just a guy that owns 4 percent of Microsoft, and that’s about 65, 70 percent of what I’ve ever owned. I think I’ve sold five times in my life and bought once, and I hold on and treasure my Microsoft stock.
I know some of you wonder if I treasure it like a crazy founder who can’t let go. I treasure it as an investor, too. I’m a believer in Microsoft. I’m a believer in the company and what we can do. I don’t normally give you the sales pitch. Not today. Today – all of you get up. You all own Microsoft stock. Cheer for it. We all want it to go the same direction, up.”
Ballmer may have been frequently criticized since taking the reins from company founder Bill Gates in 2000, as Microsoft stock fell from its 13-years ago $60 a share to the $20 to $30 range, but he sees a bright future for the company he joined in 1980.
I know our board is in the process of going through a process to evaluate candidates from within and outside of Microsoft to be open minded,” he explained. “We made this decision to announce (my retirement) before we had a replacement so we could run the absolute best succession process on the planet. It’s kind of a little weird for me to come to work and have that known. And yet when we talked it all through, we said this is absolutely the best way to ensure that the company gets the leader that it deserves for this incredibly talented team. Whether it’s one of our people who works here or somebody from outside. We want to be able to do that incredibly –thoughtfully.”
Ballmer didn’t give much away in terms of who is in the front-running for his replacement, but he appeared open minded to whatever and whoever may come.
We’ll bring in a new CEO and they’ll have opinions and ideas and thoughts. And my greatest desire will be to see the company be so much more successful four or five years from now than it is today,” he said.
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