Many Microsoft critics, including many Wall Streeters , have been wondering aloud whether Ballmer is the right man to lead Microsoft these days. At a Seattle Rotary Club meeting on June 29, when asked the question yet again, Ballmer had an official response.
“YOU TELL ME if I lack energy or conviction, or we’re not driving all the change we need to drive," Ballmer told the audience, according to GeekWire.
(Listen to the Ballmer sound clip via GeekWire here.)
Ballmer said in 2008 that he planned to stay on at Microsoft for nine or ten more years.
As the Seattle Times noted, Ballmer repeated again the key areas where Microsoft is focusing right now. He said it's all about touch, natural language understanding and the cloud. (And Windows, of course. Can't forget that Microsoft is still about "Windows, WIndows, WIndows" to quote Ballmer.)
Ballmer also seemed to have provided an earnings preview to the Rotary Club audience during his remarks today. According to the Times, he told audience members:
"The products we have are difference makers," Ballmer said. "They're the reason we will make more than $70 billion this year and, give or take, $26 billlion to $27 billion in profits."
Update: Microsoft officials have provided an exact transcript of Ballmer's remarks. Here's the slightly amended statement:
"We're building the products that we hope are the difference makers. We've been very fortunate. We've made bets. We've built products. We've made the difference. There's a reason why we'll do almost $70 billion in revenue this year, and we'll make over 20-whatever, $26-27 billion in profits. There are reasons -- we made the right bets and we're making the bets for the future."
(For its previous fiscal year, Microsoft made $62.5 billion, with $18.8 billion in net income. And Microsoft's operating income was $24.1 billion for that year.)
Microsoft's fiscal 2011 ends on June 30, tomorrow. The company isn't slated to provide its earnings report until July 21.
Microsoft's stock price has been higher than usual this week, though it isn't exactly clear why. I guess we can rule out an immediate Ballmer succession plan as one of the potential reasons, however.