Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer, in an emotion-filled address to Microsoft investors and analysts, bid goodbye to them having announced his intention to leave the company sometime before August of next year. In a speech that was nothing short of humble, Ballmer admitted to a number of missteps made by Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) under his stewardship. In his swan song speech at the annual event, he confessed that he was blindsided by Apple’s iPhone while focusing on windows.
“If there’s one thing I regret, there was a period in the early 2000s when we were so focused on what we had to do around Windows that we weren’t able to redeploy talent to the new device form factor called the phone,” said Ballmer.
Ballmer took over as CEO when Bill Gates left the Redmond, WA company in 2000. While he displayed a great deal of humility, he also believes that Microsoft has a bright future.
“We have the tools. There’s economic upside here. In the long run, we are almost uniquely poised to seize the opportunity,” he said, in a typically high-volume presentation. “Today I’m speaking as an investor. You all own Microsoft stock, cheer for it, for God’s sake.”
Recognizing his errors in July, Ballmer announced that Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) needed to shift its focus to “devices and services.” This revelation proved too late for many investors and Ballmer announced his retirement just six weeks later. While Ballmer spoke of how the top layers of reorganization had begun, he failed to address the matter of his successor in the the four hours of his presentation. The event lasted four and half hours due to a power cut for 30 minutes.
“It really was a fundamental shift from running a set of separate business units where we tried to make connection points to running a company that is essentially one integrated entity,” said Ballmer, attempting to explain his vision.
Ballmer spent a fair amount of time explaining the importance of the Nokia Corporation (NYSE:NOK) (BIT:NOK1V) (HEL:NOK1V) acquisition as part of his shift to device manufacturing.
Addressing his own interests as a man who owns four percent of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), Ballmer closed the meeting with a plea to management.
“The company needs to produce every day. We’ve got a little headwind but we’ve got plenty of upside,” he said. “The ultimate measure of a place has got to be what happens with profits. As a shareholder I will hold us accountable for continuing to focus in on good short-term results and at the same time making investments that give us an opportunity to generate someday another $10, $15, $20, $25 billion of incremental profit.”