Steve Ballmer has been much in the news this year, taking potshots at Google (remember the one trick pony quote?), calling Facebook a fad (but considering another investment, reportedly), projecting massive growth in Microsoft’s advertising business, you name it. It seems Steve knows one thing for sure – if you are going to win in these markets, you must to be in front of them. Literally.
That’s good for us, because on the morning of Day Two of Web 2, we’ll wake up to a conversation with Steve Ballmer. This will be his first appearance at the event, and I think it marks a new era at Microsoft, an era of engaging with the Web industry more directly. In the past few years of visiting and doing business with Microsoft, I’ve found folks at the company welcoming, willing to admit mistakes, and eager to learn.
A few things come to mind:
– Microsoft and Facebook, happy partnership or headed for trouble? Do you plan to invest more, or is Facebook a fad? How is the ad deal you did with them working out?
– The question I will also ask Brian McAndrews: You declared recently that 25% of MSFT’s revenues would be advertising in the future. That’d make Microsoft a media giant, one of the largest in the world. But is being a media company, well, in your DNA? If you are serious about this, how do you do it? Is a major acquisition (AOL? Yahoo?) in the works?
– Office Live: How does it win against Google Apps, Yahoo Zimbra, Sun OpenOffice, etc?
– Google: Is it still a one trick pony? What do you make of the company?
– Silverlight vs Flash vs…
– Search: You talk it up and have come a long way, but…why keep tilting at it? Why not just work with Yahoo and call it a
– Who do you wish you owned that you don’t? Was aQuantive the last big acquisition for a while?
– What do you make of Apple’s recent surge?
– The rap on Microsoft is often that the company is a bit sclerotic – slow to move, stuck in its ways. True?
– In the past five years, your stock has vacillated in a narrow range of 22 to 28 or so, but it’s on the rise lately (to 30). How do you get your stock out of what seems to be a permanent flatline?
– What technology are you stoked about?
I’d also love to do the one word game with Steve. He strikes me as a guy who has a quick wit and a very good sense of humor, and he’s not afraid to say whatever is on his mind. Words I’d toss out include:
o Net Neutrality
o Department of justice
o Steve Jobs
Microsoft is so vast, so important, I know I’ve missed a ton of stuff. So help me out here – what would you ask Steve Ballmer?