Ah, the legend of Monkey Boy! Steve Ballmer, current sitting CEO of Microsoft, earned this nickname for his famous onstage rants at Microsoft events, such as the infamous “developers, Developers, DEVELOPERS!” chant.
Monkey Boy has drawn criticism lately, because his steering of the good ship Microsoft since taking the helm from Bill Gates has met more than a few icebergs. The stockholders, hallowed by their name, are tired of the smell of burning money. And Ballmer has fired back at them.
That link is especially telling in his response. “You tell me if I lack energy, conviction or we’re not driving all the change we need to drive.”, he says. No, Primate One, nobody denies that you have energy. You’re a Tazmanian Devil of energy, whirling through rocks and trees and leaving a path of carnage everywhere you go. And nobody doubts your conviction, nobody that opinionated could be anything but convicted. You’re even brassy as a doorknob with the ‘change’ part.
The point that Steve Ballmer is missing is that energy, conviction, and change are not Microsoft’s problems. Microsoft was a fluke, an accident. It came along at the right time in history. The computer revolution would have happened anyway; Microsoft just happened to be there with Windows ready to surf that wave to the top. But, like all waves, there’s now nowhere to go but down. You can’t keep getting bigger and bigger after you’ve eaten the whole world.
Moreover, like something that’s too big to steer any more, Microsoft is being eaten alive on the mobile market. Apple is shining with custom-built little gadgets. Open source competitors are moving into embedded systems left and right, while Microsoft is doing good if anything it makes can fit onto a terabyte these days. Bloat. That’s the company’s problem: bloat, bloat, bloat, bloat, bloat.
Ballmer has also opened a website for anyone to comment on what he should talk about at meetings, nervously proffering himself before his hostile audience. That, at least, is a step forward. Anything that makes Monkey Boy shut his mouth and open his ears is a good thing.