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Steve Ballmer, domestic nazi

"My children--in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod." - Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft
(from http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2006/04/03/8373041/index.htm)

How is it that someone can so stubbornly put their company's stock price ahead of their children's ability to make their own choices and enjoy life like every other child? Is it really that threatening to his share of Microsoft if they want to listen to tunes on an iPod or google for advice on their favorite hobby? I'm not even going to ask what he would do if one of them tried to install Linux! Actually, what irks me the most about this quote is that he equates "kids making their own decisions" with "poorly behaved". I hope he was at least being somewhat facetious.

Also... the Great Robot Race is going to kick some serious ass. 130 miles of terrain, navagated entirely by AI's, no human input. Autobots... roll out ;) May the best machine win!


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 29th, 2006 09:23 pm (UTC)
I think he meant to make a funny, but I can't find the humor in it no matter how I look at it. First, his answer is in response to whether he uses an iPod. Then he goes off about his kids, being sure to mention that they're "poorly behaved." Then he talks about brainwashing them. I don't get it. Was it the audience? Would people who read Money on a regular basis find that funny?

It's not so much about putting company's stock price vs. children's free will. It's that it belies a kind of stupidity and lack of imagination that I find distressing. Surely at this point in his life, Herr Ballmer's heard of Game Theory? What would it have cost him to just say "I think iPods are a good product, but I don't own one, I own an XYZ." Ick.
Mar. 30th, 2006 02:09 am (UTC)
I don't know if you've ever seen this video before, but I think this helps a lot to explain some of the psychology behind Steve Ballmer:

Ballmer at Microsoft pep rally

While some people feel patriotism toward their country, Ballmer feels the same way about his company. I think he also sees part of his job as being to wage psychological warfare on his competitors. To try to gain corporate solidarity for Microsoft, where they're all behind the same idea and anything that stands in their way is wrong, bad, and threatening. There may be some positive aspects to this strategy, even in a game theoretic sense, but allowing your corporate strategy to affect your relationship with your kids just goes way too far.
Mar. 30th, 2006 02:15 am (UTC)
See also...
Developers chant
Mar. 30th, 2006 05:28 am (UTC)
While you can find reports to the contrary, I wouldn't say that attitude/ban extends to the whole company.

For example, their (3rd?) highest profile employee blogs about his and his son's iPod and mac (1, 2). And on the intern mailing list people discussed how to get their linux notebooks on the corporate network. (Though I have heard the interns are basically being courted, so maybe someone would put the smack down once they came aboard full time.)

I did hear it was difficult to get a Thinkpad as your employee notebook till IBM sold off their laptop division, though.

Though maybe I'm just rationalizing?
Mar. 30th, 2006 07:07 am (UTC)
I'm glad to hear there are some sane people at Microsoft (besides Dare, of course). Too bad Balmer is not one of them.

Though maybe I'm just rationalizing?
Holy jesus... if I hadn't seen the Balmer videos and read his other comments, I would have thought this was entirely fabricated. But NO...

Prior to joining Google, I set up a meeting on or about November 11, 2004 with Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer to discuss my planned departure....At some point in the conversation Mr. Ballmer said: "Just tell me it's not Google." I told him it was Google.

At that point, Mr. Ballmer picked up a chair and threw it across the room hitting a table in his office. Mr. Ballmer then said: "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I'm going to fucking kill Google." ....

Thereafter, Mr. Ballmer resumed trying to persuade me to stay....Among other things, Mr. Ballmer told me that "Google's not a real company. It's a house of cards."

I don't understand this sort of patriotism, period. Whether it be for countries, schools, sports teams, or companies, I just don't get it. Fine, you might live in a good country or work for a good company. But that doesn't mean you have to hate all others and treat them as your sworn enemy! Take a chill pill, Steve... please.
Mar. 30th, 2006 09:46 pm (UTC)
Ballmer's crazy. But I could see someone making that kind of comment completely facetiously. Actually, I could see *my* dad making that kind of comment facetiously. We had something similar in my family.

There was a whole series of food I was only "allowed" to eat one brand of: ketchup, cooking oil, peanut butter, frozen dinners, etc. The stuff my dad's company made. And when I left for college, I was expected to keep buying those brands, because the stock he owned was, in part, what was putting me through school.

And my dad's funny enough to refer to us using one brand of peanut butter religiously as "brainwashing."

Anyway, They laid him off my sophomore year of school, and he sold the stock a few years later. Now I can buy whatever peanut butter I want. Hooray!

Mar. 30th, 2006 03:10 am (UTC)
Dude, when his kids get to be teenagers, it'll be so trivially easy to rebel and piss of their dad... it's almost like they won't get quite the learning experience out of it, with his buttons just sitting on his forhead (next to the popping veins).

"Dad, can you pass the cereal?"

"Sure, here you go."

"Dad, I failed History, I'm pregnant, and I'm switching my laptop over to Redhat"

"You USE *#&@#&*@$*!(%#@! and I'll rip your fucking head off!"
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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