Tuesday, June 7, 2005


Definitely fighting words. How many people can call out and spit on a billion dollar company? Steve Ballmer can. Interview at InformationWeek:

Security woes and search setbacks. MBS foibles and EU meddling. Product delays and rival upstarts--all legitimate explanations why Microsoft could be blue. But it's not. There is, however, something that's got the company's normally irrepressible CEO, Steve Ballmer, a little more than agitated.

That's a new threat from search leader Google, which was one of the subjects at the center of a contentious discussion with top lieutenants. (The meeting was so rambunctious that this editor was asked to move away from the room where the gathering was taking place for fear that shouts and screams would spill over to the adjacent foyer.)
VB: Google--Obviously, the growing competition or perceived competition between you two guys that takes up more and more of your time. Why is this company giving you guys such fits?

Ballmer: I think they got off to a good start. Hey, lot of reasons for that. 20/20 hindsight, wouldn't do it again, of course. But, I'm confident. We just had a long meeting--the meeting I was late for you with, unfortunately--in which we were talking about some of the big options. We love what we are doing, and our portfolio, and we just have to crunch it out.

VB: Where is their vulnerability?

Ballmer: Look, they still do only one thing: search. Nothing else they have done is all that successful. And their search experience has gotten worse in the past 12 months, not better.

VB: How so? The paid, the whole phenomenon? The complexity of what they are trying to get their arms around?

Ballmer: Their relevancy as measured objectively in the past 12 months is down. I'm not saving they just [caved]. But they haven't gotten better. And at the end of the day, that's what people are paying...or using the service for. And we have made big strides, and I know we will continue to make big strides. (full interview)

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