#steve ballmer

Ira Boudway on Steve Ballmer’s attempt to by the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion:

Ballmer, as the numbers show, is offering more than any previous NBA buyer—and more than any buyer would pay for an asset with this caliber of financial performance. Over the last five years, according to Bank of America, NBA teams have sold for an average of 3.4 times their annual revenue. Ballmer’s bid comes in at 12.1 times an estimated annual revenue of $164.9 million for the year ended in June. In other words: Donald Sterling’s hypothetical $5 billion buyer doesn’t exist, and there’s probably nobody other than Ballmer willing to go as high as $2 billion.

Poor Steve Ballmer. Not literally, of course. But he just can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to his pursuit of an NBA team.

Arash Markazi:

Even worse than being named after a sailing ship that has been out of commission since the 19th century is the Clippers’ logo. It’s a knockoff of the Lakers’ logo, which was introduced when Sterling took over the team in 1982 with an eye toward relocating the team to Los Angeles.

It’s the sports version of opening up McDowell’s across the street from McDonald’s.

It basically looks like Sterling showed the Lakers logo, which had been around since 1960, to someone and asked for it to be copied as best as it possibly could without getting him sued for copyright infringement.

Agreed on both the name change, and the ridiculous logo. But what should Steve Ballmer rename them to?

Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke. Don’t make a ‘Clippy’ joke.

I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win — and win big — in Los Angeles.
Steve Ballmer, on his deal to buy the Clippers. For all the jokes about the upcoming “Seattle Clippys”, it sure sounds like Ballmer truly intends to keep the team in LA. And he’d be crazy not to keep it in a market that size after having just paid $2 billion.

A few crazy things about the sale (aside from the fact that it’s happening):

1. It’s $2 billion when the most valuable franchise in the NBA, the Knicks, were valued at $1.4 billion just a few months ago.

2. The Dodgers were sold in 2012 for $2.15 billion — the most expensive sports franchise deal ever — but that included all the land in Los Angeles on which the stadium (and parking lot) sits. More importantly, it included the massive television deals for the team.

3. The Milwaukee Bucks were just sold for $550 million earlier this year.

4. Donald Sterling bought the Clippers for $12.5 million in 1981.

5. Ballmer will own 100% of the team and become the most wealthy owner in sports, with his net worth of just over $20 billion. 

6. The person who he passes on that list? Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (who owns both the Seattle Seahawks and the Portland Trail Blazers).

7. Ballmer outbid a group including Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Laurene Jobs (the widow of Steve Jobs), and newest Apple employee Jimmy Iovine. 

I don’t think that’s an important topic, actually. It’s certainly not important to me. Microsoft is still like a child to me. So the fact that people are loving it, that’s all that really matters.

Steve Ballmer, when asked by Shira Ovide if he cares that he’s not getting any credit for Microsoft’s latest announcements, many of which he set in motion before he left. It’s a good answer by Ballmer, the exact way to handle such a question.

His answer about potentially buying the Los Angeles Clippers (and apparently not moving them to Seattle) is interesting too.

Lots of good nuggets from Dina Bass, Beth Jinks and Peter Burrows on the end of the Steve Ballmer tenure at Microsoft:

Several directors and co-founder and then-Chairman Bill Gates — Ballmer’s longtime friend and advocate — initially balked at the move into making smartphones, according to people familiar with the situation. So, at first, did Nadella, signaling his position in a straw poll to gauge executives’ reaction to the deal. Nadella later changed his mind.

Strike 1. And in other words, Nadella was against it before he was for it. We’ll see how that ends up playing out now that he’s the man…

Ballmer was so loud that day in June his shouts could be heard outside the conference room, people with knowledge of the matter said. He’d just been told the board didn’t back his plan to acquire two Nokia units, according to people with knowledge of the meeting. He later got most of what he wanted, with the board signing off on a $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia’s mobile-phone business, but by then the damage was done.

Strike 2. But:

The tablet Microsoft finally came out with in October 2012, the Surface, was a dud. Windows 8, with a touch-based design, was released to mixed reviews. The smartphone operating system, Windows Phone, wasn’t a hit either — but Ballmer remained committed to it. A deadline was looming that would result in one of his last rolls of the dice.

Nokia made about 80 percent of handsets using Windows Phone, and the arrangement was set to expire in February 2014. Nokia had been dropping hints it might start making devices to run on Google’s Android platform. Ballmer needed a way to keep Nokia in Microsoft’s world.

Hard to see what other choice Ballmer had. Without Nokia, Windows Phone was effectively finished. Instead, Ballmer was. He struck out.

One more thing:

As Microsoft continued to lag behind rivals, some directors grew more unhappy. Ballmer had introduced Mulally as part of the company’s succession planning, and those on the board looking for ways to move Ballmer out talked in July about hiring the Ford CEO as a way to persuade the CEO to step down. In August, Ballmer, 57, announced he would retire, earlier than planned.

Interesting that it was Ballmer who ushered Mulally into the Microsoft mix, effectively sealing his fate…

Mary Jo Foley:

When Microsoft co-founder and then-chief executive Bill Gates hired Ballmer from Procter & Gamble in 1980, it was to be “the business guy, whatever that meant,” Ballmer says. Since that day, his rallying cry has always been “How do you make money? How do you make money? How do you make money?” (Imagine him chanting this in the same way he hollered “Developers, developers, developers!” at a now-famous company summit in 2000. Now picture him doing so, calmly, as he kicks back in an upholstered chair in his office in Building 34 on the company’s Redmond campus.)

"That doesn’t mean nobody else ever thought about it, but ‘How do you make money?’ was what I got hired to do," Ballmer says. "I’ve always thought that way."

As CEO, Ballmer brought a new level of business rigor to Microsoft. Instead of allowing hundreds of products to bloom because they sounded potentially interesting or trendy, Ballmer required of business justification, often in excruciating detail. Only then would he give new businesses his stamp of approval.

"I would say that it has been a hallmark of mine since arrival," Ballmer says. "I’ve always had the unique, valuable perspective of being on the front line selling, working with our partners, because in some senses your ability to understand how to make money is heavily shaped by what you think people will pay for, in addition to what it costs to get things done."

You can certainly argue that this “How do you make money?” mantra (rule of three, intact!) has led to a lack of innovation (or at least, a lack of innovation that has seen the light of day) at Microsoft. But you cannot argue that Ballmer did not do what he set out to do: make a shit-ton of money for Microsoft.

Overall, a very solid and insightful interview.

You simply have to watch the video Tom Warren posted from the event. It’s surreal. A man, alone on stage, in the spotlight, in the middle of dark KeyArena (the arena in Seattle where the SuperSonics used to play). And that somehow seems fitting given that it was more like the farewell of a beloved musician or athlete — complete with Ballmer exiting by running through the tunnel to the locker room while high-fiving screaming fans.

It’s easy to make fun of this — "The Time of My Life", really?! — but it’s quite clear that this is beyond sincere. It’s too bizarre and raw not to be. Steve Ballmer really did LOVE. THIS. COMPANY.

What A Difference Six Years Makes…

Steve Ballmer, 2007:

Right now we’re selling millions and millions and millions of phones a year. Apple is selling zero phones a year.

Steve Ballmer, a few months later:

It’s sort of a funny question. Would I trade 96% of the market for 4% of the market? (Laughter.) I want to have products that appeal to everybody.

Now we’ll get a chance to go through this again in phones and music players. There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.

Steve Ballmer, yesterday:

Mobile devices. We have almost no share.

Nick Wingfield on the surreal tale of the Microsoft/Nokia negotiations:

Mr. Ballmer and Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel, were walking across the law firm’s lobby, when Mr. Ballmer — absorbed in reading a document from Nokia related to the deal — tripped on a glass coffee table. Letting out a loud shriek, Mr. Ballmer fell to floor, hit his head and began bleeding above his eyebrow.

Executives from Nokia sequestered in a conference room elsewhere in the offices were baffled by the sound, wondering whether Mr. Ballmer was reacting badly to a counter-proposal they had made. His security detail patched him up, and Mr. Ballmer resumed negotiations.

By the afternoon of the next day, participants in the discussions noticed the coffee table was gone.

I’m not sure which is more strange:

a) This detail.

b) That Ina Fried is reporting nearly the exact same weird story at the exact same time.

Also odd: that it was seemingly Nokia’s mapping service which was the single biggest holdup in the deal. That shows just how far the handset business has fallen. “Leave the maps, take the handsets.