I’ve linked to this article a few times already. But I’m going to again because there’s so much good stuff in here, particularly about Steve Ballmer.
But Ballmer is willing to acknowledge his mistakes. “I probably under-shifted to one or two things, and I feel bad about that. I don’t feel bad about social networking. Good for Facebook, great, but I don’t feel bad [that we missed it]. I feel a little differently about search, and a little differently about phones. We should have done better. I feel worse about phones than I do about search.”
Such a fascinating statement for a few reasons.
First, while Microsoft did miss social, they did invest $240 million in Facebook in 2007 — a move which many thought was insane at the time, but ended up being one of the more brilliant moves of Ballmer’s tenure. That investment valued Facebook at $15 billion. Facebook is currently a public company valued at $200 billion.
Second, while they may have failed in search and phones, it sure wasn’t for a lack of trying. They spent tens of billions of dollars on these things and still whiffed. Why? They were simply too late to both. Neither Bing nor Windows Phone are inherently bad products, they’re just late products.
So when Ballmer says Microsoft “under-shifted,” it sounds like he’s saying they didn’t put enough effort into these things. Really, they just picked the wrong gear.