Ballmer’s philosophy: “How do you make money?

When Microsoft co-founder and then-chief executive Bill Gates hired Ballmer from Procter & Gamble in 1980, it was to be “the business guy, whatever that meant,” Ballmer says. Since that day, his rallying cry has always been “How do you make money? How do you make money? How do you make money?”

And this, in my opinion, is why Microsoft is in trouble right now. Apple’s philosophy is “How do we make the best product?” They figure the money will come if they make great products that people want. And they’re right. Ballmer’s philosophy led them to making shitty products that people felt locked into owning. Those days are quickly coming to an end.



  • http://www.johncblandii.com John C. Bland II

    I agree on the differing mindsets. Build great products and the money will flow.

  • rogifan

    How do you make money? Design products that people are willing to spend top dollar on, that’s how.

  • CJ

    I worked for Microsoft’s MacBU back in the early 2000s as a Software Test Engineer. One day, I went to talk to one of the Product Managers and I asked him, “As a software tester on this team, what should my primary focus be?” Without even having to take time to think about it, he replied, “How to make money for Microsoft.” This wasn’t the answer I was expecting. “Well, I mean,” I said, “I understand that the underlying goal is to make the company money. But on a daily basis, in my job, what should MY primary focus be?” “How to make money for Microsoft.”

    I have no doubt that he has gone on to very important positions within Microsoft. The company wasn’t a good fit for me, though, and I left after two years. I didn’t care about making money for Microsoft, I cared about making great tech products that our users would love and that I could be proud of being a part of building. But that wasn’t the focus of the company or our team.

    It’s no mere coincidence that my stock options were never worth as much as they were the day I joined the company, nor that since leaving Microsoft, I have never again used the products I worked on while I was there.

    • Moeskido

      I’m guessing that’s not the only story you could tell about your time in that company.

  • mvcmendes

    It wasn’t a mantra. He was actually asking everyone.

  • pawhite524

    Coincidentally, the short sightedness was part of what brought General Motors from being the largest producer of automobiles in the early 1980s to its present state. The CEO at the time announced, “GM is not in the business of making cars we are in the business of making money.” I believe Wall St was all over that statement.