Former Microsoft CEO and current LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer closed out The Wall Street Journal’s tech conference today.
He shouted. He sang. He implied that Amazon is a lousy business.
The conference, called WSJD Live, was held at The Montage Resort in Laguna Beach.
Before Ballmer took the stage, attendees were gathered in a courtyard outside the hotel’s ballroom.
Suddenly, the volume in the room spiked.
The reason: Ballmer had walked in. People were approaching him with greetings. In return, he was kindly, gently shouting hellos back at them.
Ballmer’s volume only turned up on stage. Just after he sat down, he broke into song — singing the lyrics of a new jingle for the LA Clippers. Ballmer’s rendition went: “LA love, la la la la.” He said that pop star Fergie will sing the song in the Clippers commercial. That’s too bad that it won’t be Ballmer.
Ballmer talked about some of the tech he has brought to the Clippers, including machine learning, new Surface tablets, and better arena lights.
Asked about the mistakes of his tenure at Microsoft, Ballmer said that he is tired of looking back.
He said that he handed new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella a very healthy company. “My successor gets a business that made a quarter of a trillion dollars in the past 14 years.”
Ballmer said that was not going to become a startup investor. “My big bet on tech is Microsoft,” he said. He still owns 4%.
Defending his tenure, Ballmer ranted about how he believes companies should be built to make a big profit. The Journal’s interviewer asked him if that meant Amazon was not a great business.
Ballmer took the bait and went after Jeff Bezos’s company. He said: “I still believe that, over time, markets measure profit. At least, that’s what they taught us in economics class.”
He said that for Amazon to justify its current valuation of about $US150 billion, it will, within the next few years, need to generate “$US10 or $US15 billion every single quarter.”
Ballmer did not sound optimistic about that happening.
He said that, at 59, he’s finally studying Hebrew and plans to have a bar mitzvah.
Toward the end of his on-stage appearance, Ballmer broke out into song again.
He said that one of his favourite movies was “White Christmas” and that he’s seen it 39 times.
Apparently, after he stepped down from Microsoft, a Bing Crosby song from that movie kept going through his head over and over.
“What can you do with a general, when he stops being a general?”
Here’s the clip:
Here’s a quick Vine, revealing what it’s like to be in the room with Ballmer: