Ina Fried

Recent Posts by Ina Fried

Bloomberg Bizweek: Steve Ballmer a “Monkey Boy” No More

Perhaps it is time to stop running those “Developers, Developers, Developers” videos.

Steve Ballmer is no longer “Monkey Boy,” at least according to the cover of the issues of Bloomberg Businessweek that hits newsstands on Friday.

The magazine has a long cover story on how Ballmer has quietly rebooted the software maker.

It’s a good read, with writer Ashlee Vance interviewing Ballmer over a pork chop and wedge salad at an unnamed Bellevue, Wash., steakhouse. During the conversation, Ballmer addresses both the challenges Microsoft faces as well as what it has been like for him trying to lead in the shadow of Bill Gates.

“The fact of the matter is that the new guy will never quite look exactly like the visionary founder no matter how hard they try,” Ballmer said, according to an advance copy we got our hands on. The full article should be on the magazine’s Web site in just a bit. (Update: It’s up now, here.)

Ballmer reflects on things he might have done better as well as where the company is going, including a critical “reset” this year, as the company debuts Windows 8 — arguably the most significant shakeup of Windows in its history.

In the piece, Netflix chief — and Microsoft board member — Reed Hastings calls Ballmer “the most honest, self-critical, self-aware person I have ever met.”

“I think he embodies a key quality of a great leader, which is he cares more about the company than himself,” Hastings said. “He’s willing to be open and drive improvement instead of being defensive.”

It also notes that, despite the criticism of where Microsoft has fallen short, he has managed to create greater annual profit growth in his tenure (16.4 percent) than either GE chief Jack Welch (11.2 percent) or IBM’s Lou Gerstner Jr. (2 percent).

There are a few newsy nuggets as well, such as the fact that Microsoft plans to open 75 more of its own retail stores over the next three years. It currently has 14.

So, should we give the Monkey Boy thing a rest?

Ballmer did use his “Developers, developers” line this week, though without the enthusiasm of the original. So I think we’ll keep calling him Monkey Boy.

Since I know you want the videos, here you go.

The classic:

And here’s this week’s iteration, as captured by yours truly, on an iPhone:

Correction: The article hits newsstands on Friday, not Thursday. In any case, you can read it online in just a bit, I’m told.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work