Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer responded to calls for him to quit his position on Wednesday.
At the Seattle Rotary Club, it didn’t take long for a Rotarian to toss a hardball question to the Microsoft CEO after he finished formal remarks today at the Westin in downtown Seattle.
Assunta Ng, publisher of the Northwest Asian Weekly, asked Ballmer “Recently I read somewhere, someone said, ‘It is time for Microsoft to change its CEO. Steve Ballmer needs to go.’ What’s your reaction to that?
The question drew some nervous laughs from the crowd, but Ballmer responded in his typical boisterous fashion.
“YOU TELL ME if I lack energy or conviction, or we’re not driving all the change we need to drive.”
The crowd responded with applause. It marks the first time that Ballmer has publicly addressed the question of his future as CEO since the issue was revived by hedge fund manager David Einhorn at a recent investment conference.
He was also asked a question about Microsoft’s investment in Windows 8, and once again Ballmer’s response was meant to get across how deep his commitment to the software companies goes.
“You cut me open and saw what was inside: Windows. Windows. Windows. Windows,” Ballmer said. “Our company was born on the back of Windows. Windows underpins a huge percentage of all of our success, all of our profitability, all of the important things that we do. So, how important is it? Very, would be a very fair answer.”
The Seattle Times reports that Ballmer appeared to pre-announce Microsoft’s earnings for the 2011 fiscal year. Microsoft is officially scheduled to report them on July 21. ”The products we have are difference makers,” Ballmer said. “They’re the reason we will make more than $70 billion this year and, give or take, $26 billlion to $27 billion in profits.” The numbers, if accurate, appear to indicate that Microsoft’s annual profit will jump by around $8 billion this year. It would also explain why Microsoft’s stock price has steadily risen this week. peaking at nearly $26 compared to $24 a week ago.
Despite calls for Ballmer to be removed as CEO of Microsoft, Microsoft’s nine-person board, including Chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, supports Ballmer.
Microsoft’s stock has suffered since Ballmer has been in charge but most analysts and investors feel it would be a hard task to find someone adequate to replace him.
This will be interesting to watch…