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Video: You're a genius in our business even if you're a one-trick pony

"Most tech companies fail. They are zero-trick ponies. They never do anything well. They go away. You're pretty genius in our business if you're a one-trick pony. And even companies that get to be public companies generally have one trick," he opined.

Microsoft, on the other hand, has performed two "tricks" so far – or two and a half, to hear Ballmer tell it.

"One trick is we really invented the modern PC with Windows and Office. And then the second thing we did was really bring microprocessor technology in to the data center," Ballmer said, adding that he'd like credit for "half a trick" with Xbox.

Youtube video of the talk, starting from 5 mins, 25 secs

And Microsoft's next trick? Despite owning a four per cent stake in the company worth some $12.8bn, and despite retaining his seat on Redmond's board, the second of the three CEOs in Microsoft's history says that's now in the hands of new top exec Satya Nadella and his leadership team.

"As a board member, you're a board member. You govern; you don't lead. I speak about our company today historically because I'm a former CEO. The company and its plans and where it's going – we've got a great team that will speak on behalf of the company," Ballmer said. He added, "But I'm a very interested board member." ®

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