A tearful Steve Ballmer bid official farewell to thousands of Microsofties at a stadium bash with a booming sound track.
Shy and (literally) retiring CEO Ballmer hosted the software giant's annual staff meeting at Seattle’s KeyArena yesterday, attended by 13,000 employees. This is the last mass gathering for Ballmer and his troops after the big man announced his retirement as chief executive in August.
During an hour-long talk to the emotionally charged masses, Ballmer promised them “we will deliver the next big thing … we will change the world again”.
“We have unbelievable potential in front of us, we have an unbelievable destiny," said a visibly moved Ballmer, reusing a quote from the very first Microsoft staff meeting in 1983.
"Only our company and a handful of others are poised to write the future," he continued. "We're going to think big, we're going to bet big," he is reported to have said.
He wisecracked about rivals he either failed to anticipate or beat, and whose success helped shove him towards the exit door.
Ballmer dismissed Apple as being “fashionable”, Amazon for being “cheap”, and Google for “knowing more” whereas Microsoft is about “doing more”.
But, as ever, it was Ballmer’s moves rather than his words that delighted. The CEO who gave us the Monkey Boy dance is reported to have jumped about the stage to Michael Jackson’s Wanna be startin’ somethin’ – the song he played at that fateful 1983 meeting – while screaming “the sound of Microsoft!”
Reports talk of tears streaming down Steve's face as he gave his final speech.
Ballmer closed on (I’ve had) the time of my life from Dirty Dancing, continuing to dance and run around the stage. Employees were shaking hands with Ballmer and screaming “we love you” through the routine, we're so reliably informed.
As the event finished, the question of who will succeed the chair-flinging CEO was once again in the headlines. The reason is that one report claimed that Ford CEO Alan Mulally is now in line to the throne. Other candidates are believed to include ex-Microsoft group president and soon-to-be-ex-Nokia chief executive Stephen Elop, currently fighting a rearguard action over the size of his package upon leaving the Finnish mobe-maker.
Company chairman Bill Gates, meanwhile, has denied he’s interested in the role. The billionaire software baron is actually one of the three members of a special committee tasked with selecting the new CEO.
We invite Reg readers to submit their own suggestions for suitable songs on Ballmer's time at Microsoft and on his exit in the comments section. ®