Ballmer On Not Buying Yahoo: “Sometimes You’re Lucky”

Speaking today at Web 2.0, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was boisterous as usual. In a rousing talk with John Batelle, Ballmer talked about how, since last being on stage at Web 2.0 three years ago, Bing has doubled its market share, Microsoft hasn’t completely given up on competing with Google+ and social, the tech giant bought Skype for a boatload, among other topics of interest for Microsofties and Windows aficionados.

In what was both a stroll down memory lane, and a calibration of Microsoft’s roadmap going forward, Batelle raised the question of whether or not Ballmer was glad that Microsoft didn’t buy Yahoo for $44 billion back in 2008.

“Times change”, the CEO said. “You ask any CEO who didn’t buy something big before the market crashed [in 2008, they’ll probably say], ‘Hallelujah!'”. But, in a twist of fate, the U.S. economy dipped into one of the biggest recessions in history in 2008, and had Yahoo accepted Microsoft’s terms, perhaps ironically, the deal would have been settled right around the time that Lehman collapsed, he said.

“Sometimes you are lucky”, Ballmer admitted, grinning.

When asked if Microsoft is punting on social, Ballmer said that Skype and Xbox “seem social” to him and likely represent entry points into the broadly “social” market, and that, going forward, Microsoft is looking to add connectivity into its core products, specifically as its Skype product integration continues.

Then, regarding Microsoft’s play in apps in the cloud?

Ballmer, channelling Charlie Sheen, chanted: “We’re winning, winning, winning”.

When asked who Microsoft is beating?


Lastly, all those gathered couldn’t let Ballmer go without asking about mobile. In reference to how Microsoft is competing with Android, the skyrocketing young upstart in the mobile market, Ballmer seemed optimistic about the prospect of Windows tablets, and phones specifically.

Windows Phones have a leg up from the average consumer’s perspective, he said, because “you don’t need to be a computer scientist to use a Windows phone”, the CEO quipped.