Feeds

Ballmer: 'We made more money than almost anybody on the PLANET'

And then Apple came along, sighs Microsoft's soon-to-be-ex-CEO

New hybrid storage solutions

Outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may have egg on his face when it comes to missteps like Windows Vista, but he has no regrets about what he saw as his real job at Redmond: pulling in profits.

"How do you make money? How do you make money? How do you make money?" Ballmer bellowed in a new interview with Mary Jo Foley for Fortune magazine. "That doesn't mean nobody else ever thought about it, but 'How do you make money?' was what I got hired to do. I've always thought that way."

Given that focus, how successful was Ballmer during his tenure as CEO? Very, to hear him tell it.

"In the last five years, probably Apple has made more money than we have," the outspoken exec told Fortune. "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."

Ballmer joined Microsoft in 1980 and became Bill Gates's handpicked successor as CEO on January 13, 2000, when Gates stepped down to become the company's chief software architect.

Worryingly to some, Microsoft's closing stock price was actually higher on Ballmer's first day as chief exec than it is today, while rivals such as Apple and Google have seen the value of their shares soar into the triple digits during the intervening years.

But Redmond's stock has split no less than eight times during Ballmer's tenure, compared to Apple's three splits throughout its entire history. And Microsoft has paid regular dividends to its shareholders since 2004, while Google does not and says it has no plans to start.

Microsoft disappointed financial analysts with its revenues for fiscal 2013, but only because they set their sights high – in fact, Redmond's 2013 sales set a new company record. And both revenues and profits were up for its most recent quarter, despite Microsoft's struggles to capture a meaningful share of the mobile device market.

Ballmer attributes his successes at Microsoft to being a hands-on manager who required detailed business justification before launching any new products into the market.

"I've always had the unique, valuable perspective of being on the front line selling, working with our partners," he said, "because in some senses your ability to understand how to make money is heavily shaped by what you think people will pay for, in addition to what it costs to get things done."

He also takes credit for settling various lawsuits in which Microsoft was embroiled when he took over as CEO, in addition to driving the company to sell more products into the enterprise.

"I would say as recently as about 2007 or 2008, we'd still have people who would say we weren't an enterprise supplier at all," Ballmer said.

What's more, he said, making a play for the living room with Xbox was something else for which he was "accountable," even though he didn't directly lead the effort.

But as much as Microsoft continues to expand into new markets, Ballmer admits that Microsoft is in a different place than it was in earlier decades, something that his successor will have to confront.

"We've gone from being a complete leader to a leader and a challenger, both in the same body," Ballmer said. "And when you're a challenger, you do have to pick and choose and be more focused."

You can read Foley's full profile of Ballmer, which is expected to be his last in-depth interview as Microsoft's CEO, here. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.