Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates: “We’ve dusted-up many times”, on His Biggest Regret: “doing hardware earlier [for being] more effective in phone business” AND on Amazon: “They Make No Money.”

OR what is the ex-CEO thinking as under the new one Microsoft is ready to become a dominant force in cloud computing with superior cloud offerings, a Windows ecosystem under complete renewal, first signs of Surface-Lumia-Xbox successes on the market, and strong interest in technology partnerships by other industry leaders [this same blog, Oct 24, 2014]

Oct 21, 2014:
Steve Ballmer on leaving Microsoft, relationship with Bill Gates | CBS This Morning

The former Microsoft CEO shares why he left the company and what he thinks is his biggest achievement and disappointment during his tenure at the tech giant.

Notable excerpts (as reported by Business Insider):

“No one wanted me to leave as CEO. We had a lot of ‘tough’ discussions about whether to buy Nokia. It’s a big decision for a software company … I think it’s been well chronicled [in his exit interview to The Wall Street Journal]. We had some ‘dust-up’ type discussions.”

“We’ve dusted-up many times [with Bill Gates] in our lives. That kind of stuff happens. We’ve done that before,”

Steve Ballmer on His Biggest Regret (Oct. 21, 2014) | Charlie Rose

I would have started doing hardware earlier, so we could have been more effective in phone business.

Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, talks to Charlie Rose about the one thing he wished he’d done differently at Microsoft — and how Apple and Samsung beat him to it.

Somebody summarized in comments what Ballmer said as follows:

Rose: “Why did you not move on phones faster
Ballmer [not the real answer just a PERCEIVED summary of all answers]: “Because we were a lazy big company that thought we were invincible and I am a sorry un-visionary CEO who rode Bill Gates train to richville my entire life. I am a lucky lucky man to be so wealthy now”

Note that back in February he formulated his biggest regret as (source Forbes):

“If I look back with 20-20 hindsight, the thing I regret is that we didn’t put the hardware and software together soon enough,” he said. “It was almost magical the way the PC came about with an operating system from us and hardware from IBM. There was a little bit of magic too for Android and Samsung coming together. But if you really want to bring a vision to market, it’s helpful to be able to conceive and deliver the hardware and software.”

Even earlier, in November 2013, he had yet another answer when he was asked about his biggest regret during his CEO tenure (source: Mary Jo Foley | ZDNet)

“When I look at it and I say, okay, what’s the thing that I did that I feel — that I regret the most, not just in my CEOship but my whole time here, it’s absolutely ‘Longhorn becomes Vista.’ That was the single biggest mistake I made.”

“Why?” he continued. “Not only because the product wasn’t a great product, but remember it took us five or six years to ship it. Then we had to sort of fix it. That was what I might call Windows 7.

“And what we wound up with (was) a period of let’s say seven or eight years where we had the A-team — not all of the A-team but a bunch of our best people — tied up not driving. We did not make years progress in eight years, and there were other things those people could have been working on, (like) phones,” he conceded.

“The mistake wasn’t just an executional mistake. It was a technical strategy mistake. We tried to fight it off,” he said.

“The big things are the important things to get right in this industry, but then you’ve got to execute with cadence,” he continued. “People think it’s about changing strategy every three seconds, because that’s what people say. ‘Oh, the industry changes so fast.'”

But in reality, Ballmer said, “a few big bets really pay off.” He noted that Apple’s “bet on touch and low power” ended up working out well for the company. Google made a big bet on search. Microsoft made a bet on PCs and software, and more recently, the data center with Windows Azure.

With Longhorn, Microsoft started out with the wrong technology approach, the wrong focus by the company’s tech leadership and the wrong cadence.

Longhorn kind of fell through the cracks. “It wasn’t Bill (Gates’) thing and it wasn’t (former Windows Chief) Jim (Allchin)’s thing and I didn’t get it,” Ballmer admitted.

“When I look back and I say it was sort of a focus issue, because we weren’t focusing on what we needed for engineering cadence, bite-size approach, what was the big bet that that represented,” he said.

“I’m willing to admit when I first started as CEO is probably when I made my biggest mistake. And a lot of what we’ve been doing is just the last five or six years is really catching back up from the mistake that really you could say I made with Bill and Jim Allchin earlier in my CEO days,” Ballmer said.

Another regret Ballmer did have, however, was how long it took the company to make money with Xbox, he acknowledged. Microsoft launched the first Xbox in 2001 and the second, the Xbox 360, in 2005. Up until 2010 or so, Microsoft lost money on every console sold, according to estimates.

Ballmer said he still believes Microsoft made the right move in getting into the living room with Xbox. He isn’t sorry he gave the team a lot of freedom in creating and building the product.

“But what you’re trying to do is make money for the long run, not the short run,” Ballmer said. “So I feel bad about how we got here on Xbox, but we’ve built a heck of an asset. And could we have built it a little cheaper, yes. But we built it. We weren’t swayed from building an important asset.”

Steve Ballmer on Amazon: “They Make No Money.” (Oct. 21, 2014) | Charlie Rose

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer talks to Charlie Rose about its competitor Amazon, and why he worries about the company’s prospects: “In my world you’re not a real business until you make some money.” Amazon stock plunged more than 10% as investors worried about the company’s razor-thin margins. For the full interview, visit

BUT KEEP IN MIND THAT Amazon Sees Business In Terms of Decades:

About Charlie Rose:
Emmy award winning journalist Charlie Rose has been praised as “one of America’s premier interviewers.” He is the host of Charlie Rose, the nightly PBS program that engages America’s best thinkers, writers, politicians, athletes, entertainers, business leaders, scientists and other newsmakers. USA Today calls Charlie Rose, “TV’s most addictive talk show.” New York Newsday says, “Charlie’s show is the place to get engaging, literate conversation… Bluntly, he is the best interviewer around today.”


About Nacsa Sándor

Lazure Kft. • infokommunikációs felhő szakértés • high-tech marketing • elérhetőség: Okleveles villamos és automatizálási mérnök (1971) Munkahelyek: Microsoft, EMC, Compaq és Digital veterán. Korábban magyar cégek (GDS Szoftver, Computrend, SzáMOK, OLAJTERV). Jelenleg Lazure Kft. Amire szakmailag büszke vagyok (időrendben visszafelé): – Microsoft .NET 1.0 … .NET 3.5 és Visual Studio Team System bevezetések Magyarországon (2000 — 2008) – Digital Alpha technológia vezető adatközponti és vállalati szerver platformmá tétele (másokkal együttes csapat tagjaként) Magyarországon (1993 — 1998) – Koncepcionális modellezés (ma használatos elnevezéssel: domain-driven design) az objektum-orientált programozással kombinált módon (1985 — 1993) – Poszt-graduális képzés a miniszámítógépes szoftverfejlesztés, konkurrens (párhuzamos) programozás és más témákban (1973 — 1984) Az utóbbi időben általam művelt területek: ld. (Experiencing the Cloud) – Predictive strategies based on the cyclical nature of the ICT development (also based on my previous findings during the period of 1978 — 1990) – User Experience Design for the Cloud – Marketing Communications based on the Cloud
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