Published On: Mon, Sep 30th, 2013

Steve Ballmer brings laughter, music and tears to his Microsoft farewell

Ballmer tore up the stage at Microsoft’s annual employee meeting, as he laughed, cried and sang, while taking the opportunity to poke some fun at the opposition.

Steve Ballmer / Getty

Steve Ballmer / Getty

Steve Ballmer, due to wind up his role of CEO AT Microsoft some time during the next twelve months, took the opportunity to “let his hair down” at the meeting, held in Seattle’s Key Arena in front of more than 13, 000 staff with another twice number that tuning in via Webcast.

At the meeting Ballmer, never afraid to display his emotions despite the responsibility of his position at the software giant, delivered a typically charismatic motivational speech, throwing a few tears for good measure, as well as singing and dancing to a couple of karaoke numbers, most memorably “ I’ve had the time of my life” recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes from the soundtrack of Dirty Dancing and leaving the stage to the  strains of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin‘.”

These songs might not have been chosen at random as they could both ideally provide a reprise of Ballmer’s thirty three year career at Microsoft,

A career that began in June 1980, when Steve Ballmer was appointed by Bill Gates to be the first business manager that the company had ever employed and only the 30th employee at Microsoft. Just a year later Microsoft went public and Ballmer had the good sense to take up stock options for eight percent of the shares issued by the company, later selling off half of that amount.

Ballmer currently holds a 4% stake in the company, making up a considerable part of his personal fortune estimated to be around $18 billion, according to the Forbes 400 list.

Ballmer headed several company divisions, during his time at Microsoft, including sales and support, operations and operating systems development. In 1998 Steve Ballmer was promoted to Vice President of Microsoft behind Chairman and CEO Bill Gates, moving up that last vital rung in the ladder to officially become CEO of the company in 2000, when Gates stood down.

During his thirteen years in the top spot, Ballmer led Microsoft through a major renaissance in terms of income with annual sales growing from $25 billion in 2001 to $73 billion in 2012.

Yet despite these impressive figures, Steve Ballmer has been the subject of increasingly growing criticism, with many industry onlookers accusing him of causing the company to lag behind the times in terms of innovations, failing badly to compete against Google in the search engine race, and missing out almost completely on the social media and handheld tablet trends, allowing Apple, Facebook and Google to surge past Microsoft, at least in terms of innovation.

A fact that did not go unrecognized during Ballmer’s final performance, as he took time out from his oratory and singing performance, to poke some fun at the companies that had made his time in the hot seat at Microsoft progressively more uncomfortable.


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