Steve Ballmer's Motto: Tech Companies Are Like Sharks

Steve Ballmer Churchill Club

Photo: Julie Bort/Business Insider

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is fully aware that Microsoft must transform itself.His motto comes from a Woody Allen movie, he told interviewer Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn cofounder, at an event held by the Churchill Club in Silicon Valley Wednesday night.

“A relationship, I think, is like a shark. You know? It has to constantly move forward or it dies.”

He says the same holds true with tech companies: “Tech companies move forward or die.”

He also named Microsoft’s biggest risks:

  • You’re not successful—”you never get there”;
  • You do get there and screw up;
  • You don’t have the talent to get there.

Ballmer said it wasn’t enough to have great talent, either: “You have to have a real point of view of how to innovate in areas where you are not strong.”

He added: “Tech is a place where you have to reinvent yourself.”

But the pace is accelerated now, he said. When Ballmer started at Microsoft, the company had to reinvent itself every 10 years. Now it’s more like every five years.

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