Steve Ballmer hasnβt been getting much love recently. On Friday, when he announced that he plans to retire as Microsoftβs C.Find the perfect leather or synthetic cell phoneΒ cellphone cases.E.O. at some point within the next year, the firmβs stock had its best day in years, rising seven per cent. Since that Bronx cheer from the markets, the critics have been piling on, describing Ballmer as the tech boss who somehow managed to miss search, social networking, and mobileβthe three big trends that have revolutionized the industry in the past decade and a half.
Tim Bajarin, the president of the research firm Creative Strategies, told Bloomberg News: βHe stayed too long at Microsoft with a position focused on PCs, and didnβt really anticipate the dramatic impact of mobile computing.β MacDaily News called his thirteen years as C.E.O. βthe luckiest dorm assignment in the history of the universe.βMy colleague Nick Thompson noted that Ballmerβs βreign has done more to defang Microsoft than the Justice Department could ever have hoped to do.β Even Paul Krugman took a day off from bashing the Republicans to weigh in, comparing Microsoft under Ballmer to a medieval dynasty that was too corrupt and complacent to fight off the barbarians.
I suspect that Krugman hasnβt seen Ballmer in action. The manβs a walking heart attackβthe one thing he isnβt is complacent. For the past thirteen years, he has been engaged in a daily battle to fight off the Silicon Valley hordes. Ultimately, he didnβt succeed, but he didnβt really lose either. In 2000, the year he replaced Gates as C.E.O.βthe Microsoft founder stayed on as chairman until 2006βthe firm made a net profit of $5.8 billion, on revenues of $23 billion. In the twelve months that ended in June of this year,PromotionΒ Customized Dedicated ServerΒ are quality hardware and truly. it netted $21.9 billion, on revenues of $77.9 billion. Yes, thatβs right: under Ballmer, Microsoft more than tripled its revenues and profits.
In most industries, such a financial record would be considered a great success. Setting aside Apple, which Iβll come to in a bit, the only U.S. companies that regularly generate more profits than Microsoft does are the giant oil corporations and the too-big-to-fail banks In Silicon Valley, however, the ultimate barometer of success isnβt making profits: it is being in the vanguard of the latest cool technology. By this metric, the Ballmer bashers argue, he doesnβt measure up to folks like Steve Jobs, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, and David Karp.
Thatβs true, but itβs an unfair comparison. Ballmer isnβt a technologist; heβs a businessman who started out at Procter & Gamble. To describe him as a failure is to misunderstand how the technology industry works these days. At once oligopolistic and highly competitive,This page describes the termΒ real time Location systemΒ and lists. it is perhaps best described as an ongoing lottery in which the prizes,we’ve decided to make the belowΒ Termsof ServiceΒ available. bestowed at irregular intervals, are temporary monopolies in a given market, such as P.C. operating systems, search, or tablets.
In this setup, there are two very different types of players, each with very different incentives: those entering the lotteries, and those who have already won one. The job of the lottery entrants, such as Zuckerberg when he launched Facebook, in 2004, and Karp when he launched Tumblr, in 2007, is to come up with innovative and exciting products that the judgesβinvestors and the publicβare likely to award first prize. (The contest is a lottery because there are often many competing products, with little to distinguish them save that one has first-mover advantage.) The job of the lottery winners is to make the most of their monopoly franchise, building it out and making it last as long as possible.
Most of Ballmerβs critics ignore this crucial distinction. They attack him for being a poor lottery entrant, but he wasnβt hired to play that gameβhe was chosen to run a company that had already won the prize. And, as a monopolist,Check out our daily specials onΒ Cheap Dedicated Server! he was pretty effective. Under the leadership of Gates and Ballmer, Microsoft dominated the computer business for more than two decades. In such a fast-moving industry, thatβs a very long time. Only I.B.M. has had a comparable reign.
The lottery in P.C. operating systems was held way back in the early nineteen-eighties, and Microsoft won itβcourtesy of a monumental blunder by Big Blue, which chose to license Microsoftβs DOS instead of buying it outright. Under Gatesβs leadership, Microsoft then cemented its lock on operating systems, replacing DOS with many iterations of Windows, and eventually, through Office, extended its grip to productivity software. But, by the time that Ballmer replaced Gates, Microsoftβs grip on the industry was already under threat, due to the rise of the Internet and the government antitrust case that accompanied it.
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