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Ballmer: I will buy 20 web companies a year

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Steve Ballmer has told an audience of foaming Silicon Valley start-up types exactly what they want to hear: he will buy 20 web companies a year for the next five years.

The Microsoft boss made the promise at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco. He didn't say what these 100 acquisition targets would do for his firm, or where he summoned the magical number from. He did pledge to splurge between $50m and $1bn on each, however, Wired reports.

"Those will be good acquisitions, and they're important to us," he said. "And they're of strategic importance."

It means Ballmer's willing to lay down between $5bn and $100bn between now and 2013 to demonstrate that he totally gets web 2.0. He invited carpet baggers entrepreneurs in the audience to pitch him their companies, via the email address steveb@microsoft.com. [Hey, Steve, can we interest you in Guttergroove?]

There's a salutory lesson in this. What's the best way to inflate a bubble? Blowhard. ®

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