Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

Summary: For a few years running, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made an appearance at the start of every calendar year to provide Wall Street analysts with a "Strategic Update" on Microsoft. He didn't do so this year, but he covered some of the same territory during his keynote address during Microsoft's annual CEO Summit on May 19.

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TOPICS: Microsoft, Banking, CXO
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For a few years running, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made an appearance at the start of every calendar year to provide Wall Street analysts with a "Strategic Update" on Microsoft. He didn't do so this year, but he covered some of the same territory during his keynote address during Microsoft's annual CEO Summit on May 19.

No press were allowed to attend this year's Summit, but Ballmer's keynote (minus the Q&A with the 125 or so CEOs in attendance) was webcast. The title of his talk was "Seizing the Opportunity in the Cloud." But Ballmer didn't reveal anything new about Microsoft's cloud strategy or positioning during his 30-plus-minute talk.

Instead, what I found more interesting was the list Ballmer shared with attendees about "the five things that matter" to him as a CEO of a major tech company. The five (as listed on this slide he showed):

1. Attracting talented employees 2. Making balanced investments 3. Innovating in the right areas 4. Maintaining a positive product flow 5. Making the right future bets (like the cloud)

Ballmer said he believed Microsoft had made the appropriate self-corrections so that it is firing on all cylinders in each of these categories. He claimed that Microsoft is winning new college talent 70 percent to 75 percent of the time when it is bidding against its competitors. He said he believed Microsoft also was attracting and placing senior talent in the right proportions and right places.

It was Ballmer's comments about balanced investments, however, that I found most interesting. He mentioned in passing that there's a five-year grace period as to when longer-term investments should begin to kick in and start contributing to the company's bottom line.

(During previous Wall Street Strategic Update appearances, Ballmer said he prioritized his investments around which things would sustain a half billion dollars or more in new margin growth over the next three years. He also said he thought in 10-year increments, when thinking about key company futures.)

Learning how to be patient and see investments through is a virtue, but "patience can't be an excuse for a lack of performance," he said.

Ballmer quoted Jeff (Bezos, the CEO of Amazon.com, I'm assuming), noting that "the worst bets are the bets you don't make." It's key for a CEO to pick the right things in which to invest, and then "rebirth" the company by re-examining every two to three years the company's line up -- considering new products, new lines of business and new approaches.

"You need to be forward-looking enough, but not too forward-looking" when considering where to place your company bets, Ballmer advised the CEOs.

He acknowledged, without getting specific, that sometimes Microsoft has bet on things too far in the future (I'd put WinFS here), but also pooh-poohed the notion that things are happening every six months in the Internet space, and failing to jump on a product or trend quickly will result in failure.

"There's so much we're passing on, even though we have the broadest (product and technology) footprint out there," he said.

Here are a couple of more slides from Ballmer's talk, one showing the product line-up Microsoft will have in place by year-end 2010, and another on what's different, in terms of technology, when it comes to the cloud.

"We're in a hot wave," Ballmer concluded. "It will be a year of unprecedented opportunity for enterprise organizations" in regards to the new product releases in Office, SharePoint, Exchange, SQL Server and other products the company is delivering to market, he said.

Topics: Microsoft, Banking, CXO

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Loverock Davidson says Balmer will take Windows to the 23 century and

    Loverock Davidson has never been wrong about anything that relates to Windows or Steve Ballmer, right Loverock? :-)
    Over and Out
    • LOOK EVERY!!! HE MENTIONS ME!!!

      He mentions me, first post. Yeah I'm that good! :)
      Loverock Davidson
      • <a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/f81.html">blackberry</a>

        @Loverock Davidson Ballmer, the man with the master plan. I love how when he speaks he is always focused and committed to Microsoft. If only other CEO's could have that kind of passion for their products.
        frank dib
      • <a href="http://www.tran33m.com/vb/f82.html">iphone</a>

        @Loverock Davidson It makes me laugh that every single post in here is spam. 2 advertising products and the rest are advertising the fact that idiocy is rampant in the Apple community.
        frank dib
  • Good one Steve;-)

    The best quote:<br><br>""rebirth" the company by re-examing every two to three years the company's line up considering new products, new lines of business and new approaches."<br><br>Can anyone name in the last two DECADES what MS has spun out of Steve's "re-examing"? MS today is windows and office, it's been the same since 1990 (thanks to withholding API details, and moving developers between OS and applications, for windows 3 from the then market leaders).
    Richard Flude
    • agreed

      @Richard Flude <br>i love the prep talk took, but why not be honest here for a change? outside of windows, office and servers microsoft has no business. they never had and probably never will have. why do they bother and lose billions on search and the xbox/natal/winphone? i don't get it. wouldn't it be good leadership to concentrate on your core competencies and cut the money losing endeavours once and for all?<br><br>btw: they blow almost 10bn a year in r&d? for what? office 2010 and windows 7?
      banned from zdnet
      • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

        @banned from zdnet Microsoft has made an obvious play towards online services and web based applications. This product working will be the first step to installing confidence in consumers that Microsoft is capable of literally "thinking outside the box" and growing beyond local applications and think clients. <a href="http://www.arabaoyunlarimiz.gen.tr/cizgi-film-oyunlari/generator-rex.html">generator rex oyunlari</a>
        Arabalar
    • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

      @Richard Flude <br><br>Two decades? W2K, Xbox, Silverlight, LINQ, SQL Server, Sharepoint and Project Natal to name but a few.
      jhughesy
      • Proved my point

        None could be described as the rebirth of MS.
        Richard Flude
      • Good examples that sink Richard Flude argument.

        Those are all good examples, but you left out an important one: MS adapting to the internet. The pundits at one point claimed MS has missed the internet boat, and that Netscape (remember them?) would be the new MS.

        A more recent example: two years ago naysayers claimed Silverlight would not get traction, but today nearly half of browsing computers have it.

        Say what you will, but MS so far seems to adapt and re-invent themselves pretty impressively for such a big company.
        batpox
      • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

        Like AppleTV, no cash policy, even betting against his own <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">sohbet</a> company's future:<br><br>Let's be clear. Steve Jobs, now 55, is hardly <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com">chat</a> hurting. Forbes recently ranked him the 136th richest man in the world. Including his huge stake in Walt Disney Co. , he's worth about $5.5 billion for <a href="http://www.trsohbet.com/portal/">portal</a>. And he's surely earned his fortune. <br><br>But if he'd kept those options, the extra wealth would have bumped him all the way up to number 32 on the Forbes list. <br>One place ahead of Microsoft Corp. honcho Steve Ballmer. <br><br>Say what you like: That's gotta <a href="http://video.trsohbet.com">izlesene</a> hurt.<br><br>From an article on Steve jobs :<br><a href="http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/top-stocks/blog.aspx?post=1757631&_blg=2,1758874" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/top-stocks/blog.aspx?post=1757631&_blg=2,1758874</a> and <a href="http://www.forumuz.net">forum</a>
        cstrathmore
    • But then, even Steve Jobs makes mistakes

      Like AppleTV, no cash policy, even betting against his own company's future:

      [i]Let's be clear. Steve Jobs, now 55, is hardly hurting. Forbes recently ranked him the 136th richest man in the world. Including his huge stake in Walt Disney Co. , he's worth about $5.5 billion. And he's surely earned his fortune.

      But if he'd kept those options, the extra wealth would have bumped him all the way up to number 32 on the Forbes list.
      One place ahead of Microsoft Corp. honcho Steve Ballmer.

      Say what you like: That's gotta hurt.[/i]

      From an article on Steve jobs :
      http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/top-stocks/blog.aspx?post=1757631&_blg=2,1758874
      John Zern
      • So to be like Ballmer

        John Zern is suggesting Jobs should give a lecture about options;-)
        Richard Flude
      • Richard Flude, I think John Zern may have been pointing out

        That Jobs is not the God many make him out to be, as if we read the article correctly Steve Jobs was doubting the future of his own company, in a sense doubting himself.

        He made a multi-billion dollar mistake. You can dance on the head of a pin all you want, it won't change the facts.
        AllKnowingAllSeeing
    • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

      @Richard Flude,
      Honestly? Windows and Office are still very relevant. Office is still best in breed, when compared to iWork, Google Docs and Open Office. .NET has become a top notch programming platform. SQL Server has caught up to Oracle. Windows 7 is a solid operating system. I could keep going. So Microsoft's mobile platform failed, they have succeeded in so many other areas. You can complain that Microsoft withholds API details, but is Apple any better? Apple has their own draconian practices as it pertains to protecting marketshare.
      bmonsterman
    • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

      @Richard Flude

      That <a href="http://www.shoppharmacycounter.com/t-phentermine.aspx">Phentermine</a> is not be able to you go over with the aim of? You meditate this is.
      Phentermine
  • ??????patience can??????t be an excuse for a lack of performance,??????

    Then why are [i]any[/i] of your mobile OS people still employed?
    matthew_maurice
    • mobile

      I also thought about mobile when Ballmer talked about acquiringthe right senior talent. Microsoft has moved a bunch of the former Windows team to Windows Mobile to "fix it." I'm curious whether that strategy will pay off better than getting folks who were experts in mobile to join Win Mobile... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
    • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

      @matthew_maurice

      Totally agree with this.
      jhughesy
    • RE: Microsoft's Ballmer shares his 'five things that matter'

      @matthew_maurice
      Windows Mobile is still around because it is successful. Look at all WM devices and not just phones and you see that it outsells all others. It just hasn't caught on as well as a phone.
      sysop-dr