Ballmer in USA Today

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer is the focus of an interview in today’s issue of USA Today.

Two comments struck me, and took me back to my career at Ross Perot’s EDS and later to my time as a software company owner.

First, he spoke of the uniqueness of his being one of very few #1 or #2 guys in a company that went from 30 employees to 77000 employees. This reminded me of being at EDS (not as CEO<g>) when they had 15k employees, having GM buy us, and watching the maelstrom as we went to 45k employees in a very short period of time. Imagine the change, however gradual it might have been for him, of being in charge as your business grows from 30 employees to 77k. And you think YOUR business is different.

Second, he noted how surprised he was at how much different the CEO job. He noted that it is more different than he ever could have guessed, and followed with…

“I would never have believed I could feel more accountable than I already did for Microsoft.”

One curious comment from him about digital rights management: “Every recording artist, in my opinion, is entitled to make their own decision. And I don’t think Apple or Microsoft should be imposing its will on folks.” (about that)

As is typical for Ballmer, he never seems to let an opportunity to gig the competition get away from him, calling IBM, Apple and Google “one trick ponies”, though he later says that it’s good for Google and for Microsoft to compete with one another. Obviously.

Its a worthwhile read with some instructive thoughts sprinkled throughout. Read it, file it for later.

PS: Ballmer admits that he feels like throttling Bill Gates every now and then. Maybe he IS a regular guy:)