Microsoft’s big man on campus
Steve Ballmer knows how to pack a house.
Stanford University’s Memorial Hall was filled to its almost 2,000 capacity on Wednesday, as the voluble Microsoft CEO took the stage.
For the MBAs and engineering students who showed up, the event was a chance to get inspiration from the chief of one of the world’s most powerful corporations (and from someone who dropped out of Stanford Business School to join Microsoft). The press in attendance was mainly interested in comments Ballmer might make about Yahoo.
Indeed, with Microsoft and Yahoo reportedly in talks about a search partnership, speculation has risen in the blogosphere that Ballmer and Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz would have a sit-down during his swing through the Bay Area.
Ballmer addressed the speculation with his standard lines about Yahoo: He’s disappointed last year’s acquisition offer didn’t work out, but still thinks there’s potential to team up with Yahoo to create “a better search product” which would attract more customers and advertisers.
He declined to comment on any discussions that “may or may not” be occurring.
When it comes to Microsoft’s existing efforts in Internet search, Ballmer said the company needs to be more disruptive.
“We’re more like a start-up than we are more like a big guy in the search market,” he said, referring to search giant Google. “We can’t invest in everything the big guy can.”
And although Microsoft had just announced the second phase of its layoff of 5,000 employees a day earlier, Ballmer encouraged students to come work at the company, telling the crowed that Microsoft is always hiring and giving out his personal email (firstname.lastname@example.org) on two occasions.
“Shoot me a little piece of email,” he said.