Ballmer Says He’ll Spend As Much As $11 Billion On Search

old photo of steve ballmer

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told a business luncheon in Chicago yesterday that he’s willing to invest 5% to 10% of Microsoft’s operating income over the next five years on search.

Bump a guy’s search engine market share a few points and he goes nuts!

Microsoft’s (MSFT) operating income in 2008 was $22 billion, so a very rough estimate of Steve’s commitment would be somewhere between $5.5 billion and $11 billion.

Steve didn’t specify how he’d invest all that money.  Just that he’s willing to spend it.

“We invested in Xbox for years and now it generates nice economic returns for us,” Ballmer told the crowd, according to Reuters.

Microsoft has been sinking money into online for years and getting nowhere. See chart: