I reckon Ballmer's PR drone won this one though. More words.
Of course the letter was carefully worded to sound like a press release; it is a press release.
But the entire memo strikes me as a thoughtful summary of what Microsoft will face over the next 10 years. The company is transitioning from the cash cow of software business to a much, much more complex environment. One driven by platforms and ecosystems, built on top of open source stacks, where hardware is key to the experience, frequently monetized by ad revenue.
The shareholders - who typically don't read HN - don't fully understand the shift, and won't like the thinner margins. They want results, now. But some of the bets - mobile, cloud, hardware - will take years to pay off, just like the battle for home entertainment took 10+ years, and the judge is still out.
"Making that change while also managing the existing [cash cow] software business..."
This. The next 10 years won't be easy for Microsoft, and that's why Ballmer mentioned - four times - that Nadella should be bold and not fear the shareholders.
Also I don't understand why people are nitpicking with mobile first, cloud first wording. They're not mutually exclusive. It's about empowering companies developing mobile experiences for their workforce, using cloud-based systems. And figuring out how to make money.
My thoughts were there is nothing wrong with saying mobile-first and cloud-first. They are complementary to each other. i.e. You build your mobile apps using a cloud backend.
Ironic; The very thing that MS helped the world move away from.
Anyway, they were late to both parties, now it's full steam ahead to catch up with the rest, whatever the cost (Windows). Shame, I once liked their desktop until they turned it into a phone/tablet.
Any investor worth his/her portfolio can easily see through this.
Yeah, because Ballmer contributed so much to Microsoft. Just look at the stock price http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?s=MSFT&t=my&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=
Ballmer was the CEO from January 2000 to February 2014
No matter what you think about Ballmer you have to admit his passion for Microsoft is unrivalled.
Class was largely open discussion, the instructor rarely engaged. Except for one session, where students were discussing a politician, and said, "Well, at least he's sincere." And the class sort of murmurs, "Oh, yeah, nobody can deny the guy's sincere." The teacher, who normally kept quiet, piped up from the back of the room, "Don't overrate sincerity. The most sincere person you'll meet in your life is the maniac chasing you down the road with an ax trying to chop your head off."
Renegade Economist interview
In the old days Doctors used to bleed a patient who was ill to let out the poison "I bled him but unfortunately he died".
That or he is implying that he did nothing but suck the blood for 30 years while others did the actual important work.
I submit: Howard Dean's "BYAHHHH"
Bye. I'm outta here.
People to teach. Basketball to watch. You know.
I'll write postcards and stuff.
Love you. SB
P.S - I've got all the shares.
Whatever. I've also got loads of shares too.
Keep your postcards.
More Superbowls to win, NBA championships to win and yachts that need attention.
I would have written:
Steve to Satya: I love Microsoft, and I feel like I can trust you to take on the world for me. Microsoft must live. Here, take some seasons tickets for the Clippers.
Satya to Steve: Hey dude, I need to make Microsoft faster, leaner, and stronger. I'm glad I passed the 1st date test with you and the rest of the board. I'll take those seasons tickets now.
How cynical are you people that you don't think long-time corporate executives can sit down and write a professional, "safe" sounding, 500 word resignation letter?
I think it happened because both had lawyers looking it over due to the fact both are operating in the heavily regulated space of high-level officers in one of the world's largest publicly traded companies, and it would be suicidally stupid to not have lawyers looking over your every official utterance... and while the words are in the lawyers hands, the PR department might as well have a go too, since it's not a hard guess to think this could go mobile-first, cloud-first... er... public.
I see what you did there!
This is a crafted communication targeting information to Microsoft employees and investors. It is not a 'leaked memo'.
I've heard it said that Ballmer's retirement had much more to do with strategic board shuffling to prevent predatory dividend dumping from the vulture capitol firm ValueAct Capitol.
Leaked memo? Who made that claim? It's posted on Microsoft's own website.
Carefully crafted? Uh, yeah, it's a resignation letter from a major corporate executive that is publicly posted. Should it have some LOLs and emojis?
To reiterate the point without the confusion regarding 'leaked': The media is the message. The form of the news/announcement of the resignation came in shape of a memoized email exchange, as if these actual words between Ballmer and Satya were exchanged in this actual format.
I submit that they were not.
I submit that the substantial majority of the content was not written by or for Satya nor by or for Ballmer, but that this announcement is for employees and investors to read. I submit that it is also a method for Microsoft to contextualize a complicated decision for the tech media and for the digestion of the broader interested public.
Pierre Omidyar is still on EBay's board.
Reid Hoffman is still on LinkedIn's board.
It does seem to be more of an exception when the ex-CEO is not also a founder (or someone very close to the founders, like Schmidt). Carly Fiorina is not on HP's board, Meg Whitman is not on EBay's board (although, ironically, she is on HP's). Lou Gerstner is not on IBM's board.
It seemed pretty clear that Bill wanted out for a while before he left (as CEO) but I don't think Steve did, regardless of what the official story is.
Specifically, he addresses CEO's as well as the stock market. I think equating Ballmer's leaving of Microsoft to the stock market success is coincidental at best.
Starting on Jan 23rd 2009 (which is when the chart you linked to starts for me) an investment of just under $10K (with reinvested dividends) would leave you with just over $30k today  which is honestly not a bad return.
Anyway, I do agree it's not a bad return. It's only bad relative to the other tech giants.
* Except a couple of near misses.
That's a sign of a mature company. There are reasons to invest in companies like that (safety and dividends, for example), but they don't include high growth potential.
"Microsoft will need to be bold and make big bets to succeed in this new environment. Writing great software is a tremendous accomplishment and selling software has been a fabulous business. In the mobile-first, cloud-first world, software development is a key skill, but success requires moving to monetization through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues. Making that change while also managing the existing software business well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has."
"Big bets" - we won't win everything we try or even come close. Some of the things we do will make us look foolish.
"software development is a key skill, but success" (it's not the olden days when we had a lock on things)
"moving to monetization through enterprise subscriptions, hardware gross margins, and advertising revenues" (I'm not sticking around for this one, best of luck!)
"well requires a boldness and fearlessness that I believe the management team has" (but I"m not certain after all I didn't say "I'm sure" I said "I believe".
Ballmer want's to leave the party before the end or at least when all the good food and booze is gone.
> I have confidence in our approach of mobile-first, cloud-
> first, and in our primary innovation emphasis on platforms
> and productivity and the building of capability in devices
> and services as core business drivers.
That's a lot to have confidence in. Is this tangled web of nested lists Microsoft's idea of "focus"? cf. Apple, Google, and Amazon's mission statements.
I'm trying to think of a huge company with a specifc focus and I can't. Perhaps others can weight in here.
Nintendo is a good example! 16B mkt cap, all on games.
Off topic, but: I have been a bit negative on Microsoft since NT, which I liked and helped me get work done. However, I like their direction with Office 365 for all devices and their high end Surface Pro 3.
Sorry I forgot to give you the three envelopes.
As we discussed, this paves the way for you to use the first envelope.
That's a big step for Microsoft. My opinion is that they are late on subscriptions and ad revenues.
Quick, what's their free email service called today?
Also, note that Google/Apple can be quite gnarly about frameworks and brands, right? How's that Wave thing going? Groups? Reader?
I suspect that is what the parent comment is about, and not immature projects that were discontinued (with ample warning and exit) due mostly to lack of interest, as mentioned in your counter-bicker.
And MS tools aren't just little libs. They're things that take a heavy time investment to learn - they're practically languages and even IDEs in their own right.
Almost every .NET release has completely changed the data layer, RPC, serialization. The only thing that hung on for a respectably long time was the abominable trainwreck that was ASP.Net WebForms. Did anybody out there suffer through WCF? Ouch.
This was Ballmer's microsoft.
The new MS has nothing anywhere close to that kind of churn, and the platforms are developed out in the open.
This describes Ballmer's 34 years at the company. I used to think highly (or high-er) of him but it can't be clearer to me that him being appointed CEO was the worst decision in the history of msft, leading to the lost decade. I don't think he has any idea what he was doing - listen to his recent interview on Bloomberg.
Sweet Baby Rays - big bold taste.
If the owner couldn't be Magic Johnson, I'm glad it's a superfan like Ballmer.
Shame though, I liked Windows before they tried to slap the UI from a mobile phone onto it.
others, are born without the gift of hearing.
i was born with an incredibly low "cringe" threshold.
reading this "exchange" almost put me in a coma.
And mobile first? Do they even have a mobile offering? I mean, sure, the Slate is kind of cool. But doesn't your company need marketshare to say that you're "mobile-first"?
Has the cloud market already become larger than the server market? And has the mobile market already become larger than the desktop/laptop market?
I ask because there are always lots of markets that appear, grow like crazy, stealing money from another related market, and then saturate, without ever getting bigger than the original one. The trend we saw in computers - where every new generation brings a cheaper incumbent that plainly wins is an exception, not the rule.
I'd be quite open about a new generation of computers being an exception again, I even tought they'd be for a while. But there is no way the mobile (phones + tablet) market will grow a lot anymore. How many phones does a person need? The cloud (IaS) market has space to grow, but so do servers, and each has its own set of advantajes, thus there's no reason to imagine that the cloud will "win" while servers "lose".
Also, I think mobile-first will win via the web and because mobile is the lowest common denominator (you can put a qwerty keyboard and browser on any full computer).
My $.02 though, it's a huge gamble for Microsoft to beat others in this space. If I were Microsoft I'd be buying Pandora, Redbox, Sirius XM, expanding MSNBC, and putting more into Xbox. That space is all about negotiating with parties and exploiting your dominance, which they've proved to be masters at over the years. For Microsoft to win in the cloud and mobile, I think they need to embrace open source and common platforms similar to IBM and Oracle, and I think they can never summon that desire.
>In the butt, software development is a key skill...
>Under your leadership, we created an incredible foundation that we continue to build on — and Microsoft will thrive in the butt.