Microsoft's Steve Ballmer visits valley; discusses friendship with Yahoo
|Ballmer and me (Matt) |
Today Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer invited me (Matt) for a twenty-minute drive in his car to the Microsoft campus in Mountain View.
I decided I could hang with Steve (Eric was busy with Google's shareholders meeting). So I hopped into his Escalade, whipped out the ol' audio recorder, and asked him questions as someone else drove and he knocked back Planters peanuts (you will hear his loud crunching), sipped at a Starbucks' iced tea and played with its accompanying green straw.
Here is the audio file.
His comments on Google and Yahoo are revealing. The audio clip begins after we start talking about some Google products, and you will see that he rips into Google's Desktop, calling it a "random hodgepodge of a bunch of incompatible things....I think it's more embarrassing than anything else."
Later in the clip, he talks about all the areas of current and possible deeper cooperation with Yahoo. He talks warmly of Terry and Jerry.
Here are links to the Mercury News stories about Ballmer's visit:
--Coverage of his comments at the Churchill Club/Commonwealth Club (including praise of Facebook)
--An edited text transcript of the Q&A I had with Ballmer in the car.
--Related Merc story about how Microsoft is trying to shake up the PC gaming market. It is by Dean Takahashi who knows his stuff. He's authored a book on gaming, released just this week, called Xbox 360 Uncloaked.
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Links to blogs that reference this entry:
"Most important thing is having the right dialog with the user..", "...you need to religiously listen to user..", "..respect user preferences.."
So, Steve definitely realizes the importance of user in this game..that's cool.
Wow..so, Amazon & M$ team is (in all likeliness) going to come up with a mp3 player..that's some news for Apple.
btw Matt, thought you might want to look at the way mercextra.com shows up in my browser..
This is the first time I've seen the face of people who write this fantastic blog :-)
Re Amazon/Microsoft MP3 player, I guess you're referring to fact that he didn't answer my question on it -- and instead burst into booming laughter, and then said "no comment?" I'm not sure that's a confirmation that there's something there; I think that's just crazy Steve Ballmer, and that we don't know ;)
COMPARE STEVE'S PERCEPTION OF MS RELATIONSHIP WITH YAHOO - WITH TERRY'S PECEPTION OF MS
/// Q What about the relationship with Yahoo? Can you talk about the rumors you might be joining forces with Yahoo?
A There's a level of competition, but we're also a good customer. We're moving now to our AdCenter platform, but we've been a customer of theirs for Overture. They're a licensee of our Internet Explorer technology, which they're providing for download off the Yahoo site. I know those guys well. I've gotten to know them over the years. I like them. Particularly co-founder Jerry Yang, I've known very well over the years.
Terry Semel, chairman and chief executive of Yahoo, said on Wednesday he had turned down an offer from Microsoft to buy a stake in Yahoo‰¥ús search business and that discussions about Bill Gates‰¥ú software group acquiring the company had not taken place.
‰¥þMy impartial advice to Microsoft is that you have no chance,‰¥ÿ Mr Semel said. ‰¥þThe search business has been formed.‰¥ÿ
Actually, that second quote is a bit misleading. If you listen to the interview, Semel seems to talking about the past, when Microsoft was thinking about getting into search. He may have turned down Microsoft's offer to buy their search, but the quote of him telling Microsoft to forget about the search business is definitely referring to a conversation he had with Microsoft in the past.
The reason that remark appeared to STILL be valid is due to the following:
(unfortunately Ken kept interupting)
We had a partnership with Microsoft;
We were they search provider;
they really decided that they wanted to get into the search business as well.
I know I would sound partial, but I felt like I was giving impartial advice.
my impartial advice is that you have no chance;
the marketplace has been formed.
Search as we know it today, search the web as we know it today, the number one search player in the world is Google,
and in the US, Google at the time was in the high 30s, had about a 38% market, Yahoo had about a 29 or 30% market share
Microsoft, and I'm not going to call it Microsoft cause it makes it sound so large. On the Internet Microsoft's called MSN. So MSN which is small, not large, had about a 13% market share, and that would be less in different countries, so 13% in the US.
So my advice to them is no matter how well you build this thing, you'd begin with no data, cause the two of us had been in this business for a long time and you'd begin without a single advertiser in your system....
Terry did NOT indicate that his feelings/perceptions had changed. Knowing the importance of this interview it does not have been an oversight. There even was a touch of Patronization when referring to Microsoft as MSN.
His (a-hem) "perception" aout MSN having NO Chance was probably a strategy to keep them as a Paying Customer.
:LOL (Oh go ahead, MSN start your own Search Engine. You will be successful - as you have been with so many endeavors - and you'll REALLY gain an increasing chunk of the market share!)
Microsoft STILL has about that same share
Another interesting piece in this interview is:
In reference to his refusal to co-own/ Search Partner with Microsoft
"...buying someone's right arm, while I still have their left arm"
for a Year both Yahoo and Microsoft used Inktomi - after Microsoft got rid of Looksmart - the two SERPs were quite similar.
Yahoo had been through Altavista and Google previously, even replacing Google with their Directory as the Default - only recently they saw the light to get their own search.