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Steve Ballmer has one regret as he prepares to leave Microsoft

Microsoft CEO sounded strong at meeting Thursday in Bellevue, admitting he regrets missing the importance of mobile phones. And he acknowledged Microsoft needs to change some things. (AP Photo/File)

He has one regret.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, who is retiring within a year from the company, reminded shareholders there’s a reason he was CEO as Microsoft hosted a Financial Analysts Meeting. It was the first meeting of its kind in in two years, Thursday in Bellevue.

But it was more of a state of the company address.

“Number 1: We built a heck of a good company,” said Ballmer. “Number 2: We’re aware that there are challenges in front of us. And number 3: We’re actually very well positioned for the biggest and most incredible financial upside that the company could dream about.”

He sounded strong, admitting he regrets missing the importance of mobile phones. And he acknowledged Microsoft needs to change some things.

“Mobile devices – we have almost no share. I don’t know whether to say with enthusiasm or uncomfortable tension but I’m an optimistic guy,” he said. “Anything we have low market share (of,) sounds like upside opportunity to me.”

Ballmer said the company’s reorganization was “a fundamental shift from running a set of separate business units to running a company that is essentially one integrated entity.”

He also said for the first time, his decision to leave Microsoft was really made three years ago.

“About three years ago was the first time I put in my personnel review with the board that I actually had to think about the day I might not work at Microsoft. I agreed with the board I would spend some time getting to know all of the people at the top of our competitors – if I could so that we would have some knowledge base for whenever I was to decide that I would retire. we’d kind of know the people outside Microsoft that might be candidates,” Ballmer revealed. “Now I’ve spent three years getting to know a bunch of people.”

And there were a few statements from Ballmer that might have had you saying, ‘That’s profound, wait, is that profound?’

“Now what is the next big thing. Well, it’s the next big thing. You’d say – ‘Well tell us, Steve! What is the next big thing?’ Well there aren’t that many next big things,” Ballmer conceded.

But in the end, he said his belief in the company and its stock is solid.

“After I retire, I’m just a guy that owns four percent of Microsoft. And I hold on, and I treasure my Microsoft stock,” Ballmer said. “I treasure it as an investor too. I’m a believer in Microsoft. I’m a believer in the company, I’m a believer in what we can do. I don’t normally give you the sales pitch […] not today. Today I’m speaking has an investor. All of you! Get up! You all own Microsoft stock! Cheer for it for God’s sake. We all want it to go the same direction. Up.”


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