Monday, February 24, 2003 - 12:00 a.m. Pacific
By Brier Dudley
In an extensive interview with The Seattle Times, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer addressed a range of subjects. Here are excerpts:
On expanding into new markets
I think as a company we've struggled over the last few years with the idea of what do we want to be when we grow up, with the trial and some of that. ... I have been schizophrenic myself, get into new areas, don't get into new areas. It's hard to manage a business that's in multiple areas.
On Microsoft's leadership role
Clearly, our role is (one) of leadership, of greater expectations from customers and partners alike, and in some senses what does it mean to be (a leader). Instead of thinking of yourself as kind of a struggling startup, you have to think of yourself as an industry leader with industry-leadership responsibilities.
On adding a company president to the management team
It's always great to get more help. And when we need more help if we need it we'll get it. But it's not like I have some magic opening.
On Microsoft's stock performance
We're doing better than most guys. It depends on where your perspective comes from.
On when the stock will rise again
I don't know about the stock price. It moves on a lot of factors; only a few of them are controllable by us. Interest rates go up and down, our stock price goes up and down; market sentiment goes up and down, our stock price goes up and down; the economy goes up and down, and our stock price goes up and down.
On competing with Linux
We've got to have a better product, it's got to be easier to use, it's got to be cheaper to own, maintain. We can't be cheaper to acquire. That's the one thing we can't do; we can't beat them on initial acquisition price. But we can offer better cost of ownership, better features, better value.
On motivating employees
Our people are probably, relative to the market, as well or better compensated today than we've ever been in our history. Stock options, cash, plus everything else we're probably relatively in the strongest shape to market that we've ever been.
Now, in absolute, people don't quite feel that way they say, hey, the stock's down. On the other hand, relative to everybody else, we're in a stronger shape.
But that isn't why people come to work anyway. ... I think people have always come to Microsoft to change the world.
On the new branding campaign
We need to communicate more about ourselves; we can't just let other people talk about us.
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