Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Microsoft Businesses

Steve Ballmer Blew Up At the Microsoft Board Before Retiring 248

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the developers-developers-developers-rage-quit dept.
mrspoonsi writes with this excerpt from Business Insider on Steve Ballmer's final months as Microsoft CEO: "Ballmer decided to announce his retirement a few years before anyone expected him to. It all came to a head in one board meeting with Ballmer in June 2013. According to Businessweek, Ballmer got into a shouting match with Microsoft's board when directors said they didn't want to buy Nokia and start making smartphones. Ballmer told the board last June that if he didn't get what he wanted, he wouldn't be CEO any more. Businessweek said Ballmer's shouts could be heard in the hall outside the conference room. In the end, the board compromised with Ballmer. Ballmer wanted to buy both Nokia's handset business and its mapping platform called HERE. Instead, Microsoft ended up buying just the handset business for $7.2 billion and licensed HERE maps from Nokia." Ballmer seems to be regretting not getting into hardware sooner (although given that not making hardware propelled them to success in the 90s...)
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Steve Ballmer Blew Up At the Microsoft Board Before Retiring

Comments Filter:
  • asshole (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:05PM (#46409649)

    I'm sorry... is there a better word to describe this self-absorbed troll?

    • Re:asshole (Score:5, Funny)

      by sidevans (66118) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:06PM (#46409667) Homepage

      Anonymous Coward?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I'm sorry... is there a better word to describe this self-absorbed troll?

      Consistent.

      Fat.

      Shall I go on? :-)

    • Re:asshole (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Will.Woodhull (1038600) <wwoodhull@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @02:06PM (#46410449) Homepage Journal

      I've always felt that "potty-mouthed, chair-throwing, murder-threatening, monkey dancer" was an adequate moniker.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    He wasn't really mad.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:08PM (#46409693)

    Damnit. :P

  • Change is good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jamesl (106902) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:09PM (#46409707)

    ... although given that not making hardware propelled them to success in the 90s...

    And making typewriters and mainframes propelled IBM to success in the 60s.

    • I don't think anyone is arguing money can't be made with hardware- just that pursuing both software and hardware systems is difficult and fraught with risks.

      Look at Apple's wild swings.... I don't really have an opinion on Apple but I certainly think they could be very profitable or not 5 years from now.

      • Especially when hardware has not been their strong suit. Apple has done both for a long time and even they have trouble with it at times. The transition won't be overnight. In the meantime, is the world going to pass MS by like it did with the Zune? By the time the Zune came out, it didn't offer many advantages over the iPod ecosystem. Also MS entered the market when it was about to plateau meaning they were already too late.
    • Eeeeehhhhhhh.... that doesn't really apply. IBM had to change, typewriters and Mainframes were going the way of the dinosaur.
      I don't see Windows doing that, actually worse, things that Microsoft hope would go extinct aren't (ie. XP).
      Now Microsoft already has some forays into hardware but they just aren't that terribly profitable.

      While the Xbox One and Xbox 360 sold 3.9 million and 3.5 million units respectively, gross margins for the Devices & Consumer Hardware division were down 46% to $0.4 billion. Total Surface revenue doubled to $0.89 billion (probably selling around 1 million Surface tablets), but costs also spiked to $0.93 billion (probably due to marketing and slim margins on the Surface tablets).(http://www.extremetech.com/computing/175350-microsoft-delivers-record-revenue-profits-due-to-strong-xbox-windows-phone-and-commercial-sales)

      Wow, $0.89 bil for the Surface that's amazing and .... oh... wait....

      Commercial Licensing (Windows, SQL Server, Hyper-V) revenue grew 7% to $11 billion.

      Yeah software is still the main cash cow and it's going to stay that way unless people, I dunno, everyone su

      • Eeeeehhhhhhh.... that doesn't really apply. IBM had to change, typewriters and Mainframes were going the way of the dinosaur. I don't see Windows doing that, actually worse, things that Microsoft hope would go extinct aren't (ie. XP).

        Windows is very much in danger of becoming extinct. It no longer commands 98% of the O/S market for devices (even if you restrict that to desktop computers and full sized laptops). There's now OS X with a 5-10% share of the computer market, and Apple charges nothing or nex
    • by pigiron (104729)

      Microsoft has not been a "success." It's been a cancer eating away at decent automation.

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:11PM (#46409723)

    phones and tech in general is going the way vertical integration like the auto industry almost 100 years ago

    at one point cars were "open" where you could mix and match and lots of manufacturers made the different parts
    then came henry ford and the industry went vertical where one company was doing all the design and most of the manufacturing for most of the parts
    alfred sloan took it one step further where he had a few basic designs with slightly different bodies to look different and sold them under different brands

    • Interesting you say that, Henry Ford used Dodge brothers axles for years and I am sure he sourced many other parts for the cars from others in Detroit too.
      • by alen (225700)

        no one makes their car 100% internally, even today
        but lots of car makers build their own engines and other major components or have them made to exact specs

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:12PM (#46409745)

    "Ballmer seems to be regretting not getting into hardware sooner (although given that not making hardware propelled them to success in the 90s...)"

    That's because during the 90's there were dozens of people in hardware but only a few strong software people. By the time the 21st century got rolling, the tables had flipped, software as an industry was well developed and now it was all about miniaturization and portability, so the pendulum swung back to hardware being the profit driver. Just because something worked last decade doesn't mean it's going to work this decade.

  • So Microsoft avoids buying a failed phone co and Balmmer rage quits. What's the downside? It's like killing two turds with one flush!
  • by invictusvoyd (3546069) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:14PM (#46409779)
    They dominated the smartphone market, had a decent OS and very good harware prowess. They could have just opened symbyan up . Set up a community and let it spawn . Instead they decided to open symbian after it was almost dead . I'm not a Steve Jobs fan but the man has proved that a company needs vision and balls . not Ballmers.
  • by JMZero (449047) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:15PM (#46409781) Homepage

    There's no reason MS couldn't have taken the route Google has with branding phones (eg. the Nexus 4, actually made by LG or Asus or I don't remember). I don't think buying Nokia is going to look like a good decision down the road.

    Overall, MS's continuous doubling down on mobile has succeeded only in poisoning their other products.

    • by Archangel Michael (180766) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:32PM (#46409983) Journal

      The problem with Microsoft and Nokia, is that nobody really wants a Microsoft Phone, and Nokia was driven into the trash heap by going the Microsoft Route exclusively (among other notable awful choices).

      Microsoft has been a "Windows Company" for so long, they don't know how to do anything else besides "Windows". And now, with the dawning of Google Apps and Libre/Open Office, and ChromeOS / Android / iOS as choices to compete, there is a huge problem for Microsoft Windows ... it isn't even a good choice any more, it is just another choice. Microsoft is stuck, being a Windows Company.

      Anything they do now, is too little, too late. They needed to change 10 years ago (yes, 2004) when the tide started to change. I saw it then, and knew the end was near. Microsoft has no new products, no new vision. It is dead.

      • by lgw (121541)

        The problem with Microsoft and Nokia, is that nobody really wants a Microsoft Phone

        The WinCE-based phones were pretty bad - heck, MS itself called the OS "wince". The Win8 phones are fine, and while they had a rough launch, their market share continues to grow - they outsell iPhone in (poorer) European countries. Seems credible to me that they could take second place once Blackberry is fully gone, if they can crack the Asian market, where right now you're right.

        Outside of phones, Office (PowerPoint and Excel, Word no longer matters) and MS SQL have pretty good lock-in in business use,

        • Closed loses to open EVERY SINGLE TIME! That's why Windows dominated (closed source, but open to develop for...until "Metro" happened anyway). Android is stomping all other mobile OSes right now because they are open. Closing off Windows is going to strangle the platform, and indeed, already has. No one likes "walled gardens", and even the Apple devotees are starting to chafe a bit at the restrictions of such an environment. MS is doomed if they continue their current course.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Tasteful and profitable wins over open or closed.

            OSX might have awful market share but Apple sells more than most Windows OEMs do and they make money on each unit sold.

            That's winning. Not massive market share. Profit and sustainability. Only fools go after popularity.

            • by PRMan (959735)
              Yeah, it's funny when you tell people that Nintendo has made more money on Wii U than Microsoft and Sony combined on their new consoles.
    • They made an attempt at MS branded PCs and all the OEMs balked and forced them to shelve the idea. They have similar issues with the Surface lineup. Google has been able to get away with their hardware branding strategy because they didn't have an existing customer base that would object to the competition.

  • by ngc3242 (1039950) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:20PM (#46409849)

    Microsoft was trying to push smartphone before it was popular, but no one wanted or wants what they were or are selling. They have never really had the kind of charismatic salesman that Apple had in Jobs, so they weren't able to create convince people to buy this new thing and create a market. Now that the market's set, and Microsoft essentially isn't part of it, they're done. Just copying Apple or Samsung are doing by having hardware isn't going to make people want Windows Mobile (or whatever they're calling it these days) anymore than they did previously. The Nokia purchase is a huge waste of money. Most people aren't going to buy Microsoft phones. Microsoft needs to spend its resources building something cool (that isn't a phone) and a separate brand for it. That's the kind of gamble that big companies don't take though. There's too much to risk, and it takes a long term vision and commitment that investors don't have.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by WillAdams (45638)

      They also didn't have the discipline which Jobs imposed to not market a product until the technological infrastructure was in-place to support it:

      - Apple waited on the iPod until there were enough machines w/ FireWire so that it could synch in a reasonable timeframe and they had sufficient content deals lined up to make it work --- Microsoft released the Zune before they could find a compelling reason for people to buy them.
      - Apple deferred on the iPad, instead first releasing the iPhone 'ca

    • by NoZart (961808)

      "Microsoft needs to spend its resources building something cool (that isn't a phone) and a separate brand for it. "

      IMHO they did exactly that with xbox.

      But they still managed to mess it up in the long run.

  • by Billly Gates (198444) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:21PM (#46409857) Journal

    ... I will quit and you will be forced to hire A MORE COMPETENT CEO!

    That is right. I will QUIT because I failed to make revenue off WIndows 8 mobile due to things that were all my fault! DON'T Make ME make your job easier now by having me LEAVE?

    Board of directors: (... a look of shock. Then grins with each other. ) Oh Balmer. NO!! You may not. Take your anger out.

    Balmer: Throws a chair. I QUIT!!

    Board of directors: (... in a lame semi sarcastic tone). Oh no Balmer. What a shame. Soo sorry it had to come to this.

  • Should have bought Here instead. I don't see what they gained with the Nokia handset business. It's basically a $7B buy for the Lumia line. Here/NavTEQ is really reliable data source. They've been in this mapping business for a long time and know what they're doing.

  • by The Real Dr John (716876) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:25PM (#46409909) Homepage
    spent their money on improving Windows, one of their major income sources. If they had spent some of that money making an upgrade utility to let Windows XP users upgrade to Windows 7 or (ugh) 8.1, they would have done their existing customers a great service. Many people don't upgrade because they don't know how, or don't want to have to start from scratch. If MS had made Windows more reliable and easier to install and update drivers, that would have been a big help to their existing customers. Every time MS goes into hardware (with the possible exception of the Xbox) they fail. I think they would have had a lot of money left over from the 7.2 billion dollars if they had put their efforts into their main product, rather than trying to get into the smartphone business. It's not like Windows is perfect, and doesn't need any work, especially Windows 8.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      XBox is still a failure ultimately.. the cost outweighed the profitability until very recently, and that doesn't consider the lost opportunity that investment money could have been put to. Its a bit debatable but no other company could have done the XBox as they don't have Microsoft's bottomless pit of cash and nothing else to spend it on.

      Microsoft did do some excellent hardware though - their mice were the best, their keyboards are good, and their webcams are good too.

  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:32PM (#46409989)

    Microsoft still has a chance...
    They need to make Windows Free, maybe even open source (ok, that's a pipe dream)
    Then they need to invent all kinds of stellar business apps that integrate with it flawlessly...
    and license those apps to businesses. Businesses will pay for supported apps, because they like to be covered if something happens (thats how oracle makes money)

    Basically everything Microsoft is currently doing is wrong. They are digging their own grave and anyone with any tech savvy at all knows it.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:50PM (#46410187)

      Microsoft makes billions from selling Windows. The most popular consumer operating system ever made. You want them to forgo that revenue stream so they can become a more trendy 'open source' provider, in the hope that they might, potentially, maybe make more money in another way. Despite the fact that no company doing this makes money in this way.

      Apple -> gives away software (kinda) -> makes money from hardware (and always has)
      Google -> gives away software (kinda) -> makes money from ads (and always has)
      Microsoft -> gives away software -> makes money from 'supported apps'

      Do you really think you have any idea how to run one of the best companies in the world?

      Astronomical arrogance.

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        It would make sense - when your product reaches a certain point in its life, its peaked and starts to become a target for alternatives, and when those alternatives gain enough traction (which often happens "overnight") then your product becomes an also-ran that no-one wants anymore.

        Now until recently we only really had Windows, but today we have Android and iOS as serious competitors. What happens on the desktop - generally no-one cares anymore. Microsoft continues to sell fewer and fewer copies and Windows

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Then they need to invent all kinds of stellar business apps that integrate with it flawlessly...
      and license those apps to businesses. Businesses will pay for supported apps, because they like to be covered if something happens (thats how oracle makes money)

      They already have that. It's a little-known suite of programs called "Microsoft Office"

    • by Princeofcups (150855) <john@princeofcups.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @02:41PM (#46410947) Homepage

      Microsoft still has a chance

      Microsoft is a huge successful company, and is not going anywhere. If anything, they will have to scale back in a few sectors.

      They need to make Windows Free, maybe even open source (ok, that's a pipe dream)

      Absurd. The near monopoly of Windows gives them the muscle to keep better products off the market. They are also the only player in town when it comes to PC OSs (sorry Linux), and the Windows tax is not something that they would or should give away for free.

      Then they need to invent all kinds of stellar business apps that integrate with it flawlessly...
      and license those apps to businesses. Businesses will pay for supported apps, because they like to be covered if something happens (thats how oracle makes money)

      That has never been their business model. Either buy the better app and rebrand it MS, or else crush the competition through their Windows monopoly, e.g. withholding parts of the API.

      Basically everything Microsoft is currently doing is wrong. They are digging their own grave and anyone with any tech savvy at all knows it.

      I really don't think that you speak for the "tech savvy."

  • by silviuc (676999) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:40PM (#46410071) Homepage
    the chairs! Whatever you do, DO NOT give that man chairs. If he has to sit on one, make sure it's bolted down. It's for your own protection.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @01:45PM (#46410131) Journal
    I have relatives who work for Microsoft who use the same gym Steve Ballmer uses. He does not have any sidekicks hanging around him, nor does he project any kind of superior airs there. Quietly shows up and works on some free machine, wipes the equipment with a towel like everyone else before leaving. I am not disputing "he throws chairs" or "shouts at the directors" etc. Both could be true.

    I think Ballmer inherited a very large unwieldy and nearly ungovernable organization. All the real genii had either cashed out, burnt out or were pushed out. Near monopoly status meant every one is producing huge torrents of revenue and it was difficult to cull out the wheat from the chaff. Those who remained and got promoted were the third or fourth echelon of talent who excelled in office politics and political intrigue. Much of the credit the media heaped on him in the early were undeserved and so is most of the scorn heaped on him.

    • I have relatives who work for Microsoft who use the same gym Steve Ballmer uses. He does not have any sidekicks hanging around him, nor does he project any kind of superior airs there. Quietly shows up and works on some free machine, wipes the equipment with a towel like everyone else before leaving. I am not disputing "he throws chairs" or "shouts at the directors" etc. Both could be true.

      That makes him sound like a pretty ineffectual CEO. Seriously, shouldn't he be taking charge and reading the law to his reports? There is so much going on at MS, that I'd expect there to be a constant flurry of activity around the CEO. It sounds more like he was just "phoning in" the performance.

    • in the early 90s, and I'd rate him as one of the nicer executives I've dealt with. I spent about half an hour with him setting up equipment for a meeting, he was quite friendly and unpretentious. I have a friend who's related to him by marriage, and likes him well enough, though he doesn't know him well.
      • I have no doubt that he can be quite harsh when the situation calls for it. Part of being a CEO is bringing down the hammer. A lot of them don't know when to turn that off, I give Ballmer some credit for not being one of them.
  • Thanks (Score:2, Funny)

    by jones_supa (887896)
    I'm glad that the angry idiot is leaving the house.
  • Missed Opportunity (Score:4, Insightful)

    by organgtool (966989) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @02:00PM (#46410343)

    Ballmer told the board last June that if he didn't get what he wanted, he wouldn't be CEO any more

    So Microsoft could have declined to buy Nokia's handset business, retained the $7b they would have spent on it, and have gotten rid of Ballmer sooner? That just has win all over it. And in classic fashion, they stumbled once again and made the completely wrong move. At this point, watching Microsoft implode is starting to transition from hilarious to slightly sad. After what they've done to the software industry, they deserve to suffer, but at some point they're going to need to start making smart moves if they want to continue providing serious competition.

  • Sometimes those heavy stones complain when you toss them down a ravine where they belong.

  • by frog_strat (852055) on Wednesday March 05, 2014 @05:55PM (#46413123)
    As a civilization we are amazingly uninterested in the common themes we see with large organizational structures. How they frequently let people with low interpersonal / ethical intelligence run large structures. So we see all manner of childish behavior, extortion on resellers selling competing products. Personnel policies that mandate that someone on every team must fail. I could go on and on. Maybe one day in the future, we will require a psychological assessment of these people. There was that study out of England suggesting business leaders qualified as psychopaths at four times the general population. Maybe one day we will require that a company be an asset to a society, that profit alone should not be the only measure. I was eating dinner one night in Redmond with my little niece. I spotted the Balmer entourage at another table. I told the waitress, I am picking up their check. She came back and said they thanked me but they would pay. I thought it would have been an interesting story.

Aren't you glad you're not getting all the government you pay for now?

Working...