The shy and retiring CEO of Microsoft Steve “there is a kind of hush” Ballmer had to face off against a lynch mob of angry shareholders yesterday.
Shareholders are miffed that the outfit’s share price is flatter than Holland and he is not giving them back any dividend.
Ballmer bravely faced the shareholders armed only with his chair and answered each of their questions one by one until they were satisified. Nah, not really. After answering a few questions he said he ran out of time after 15 minutes and refused to answer any more.
At the meeting, Ballmer rejected a shareholder suggestion to break up the company, and trotted out the usual stuff about putting Windows at the forefront of tablets. He also highlighted the Xbox console as a “game-changing” consumer device. Well, a consumer device which involves you having to change a lot of games at least.
The gathering broke up with only a half-hearted applause from the 450 or so in attendance, while a handful of shareholders shouted for more time to ask questions, Reuters reports.
Apparently people were miffed that they drove through the snow to have a word with the great man and he could have answered at least an hour’s worth of questions.
As one shareholder pointed out, Ballmer was waxing lyrical about tablets and phones as if it were a new thing. “Apple’s had these things for years. My granddaughters don’t even know what Microsoft does. They should treat the owners better than they do.”
To be fair to Ballmer, Microsoft has had tablets longer than Apple and possibly even Fujitsu though we doubt it, and most American grandchildren can’t name the US president and think that Jersey Shore is a good show.
Vole posted a record profit of $23.1 billion last fiscal year, but many shareholders are concerned about Microsoft’s static share price, which has been stuck in the $20 to $30 range for more than a decade.
They are worried that the outfit is losing ground to Apple and Google.
Gates, who was pretty quiet, defended the build-up of cash on Microsoft’s balance sheet, now over $57 billion in total.
He said that you need to retain enough cash so the company has the strength to be able to take big risks even in the face of some economic uncertainty. The Vole’s opportunity to be the best software company is “stronger today than it has ever been,” and pointed to an “upside” in the phone and tablet business.