Ballmer goes out punching

The shy and retiring CEO of Microsoft, Steve “sound of silence” Ballmer, gave his last staff presentation with a typically subdued, low-key performance.

Ballmer launched himself onto the stage to the tune of “Can’t Hold Us” by Seattle’s Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. He left to the strains of Michael Jackson’s “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin” which was the song placed at his first employee meeting in 1983.

That 1983 song, for what it was worth, was followed by “The Time of My Life” from the finale of “Dirty Dancing”. It all seems oddly appropriate, given what he has in his bank account.

According to Reuters, Ballmer was “visibly moved” – we don’t know who was moving him as he is usually propelled under his own steam.

Ballmer told the staff that they had “unbelievable potential” in front of them and an “unbelievable destiny”. We are not sure we believe that either, but it was also a cut and paste from his 1983 meeting.

He said Microsoft and a handful of others are poised to write the future. The Vole is going to think big and is going to bet big, he said, although without Steve it charge it will be hard to find anyone that big ever again.

Thousands of full time Microsoft Voles showed up to see Steve’s last hurrah. Most of them were bussed in from Microsoft’s campus on the east side of Lake Washington. More than 25,000 other staff tuned in via webcast.

Ballmer told the throngs that when he told his parents he was dropping out of Stanford’s business school to join Microsoft in 1980, his dad asked him what a PC was.

These days, he said, Apple is about being “fashionable,” is about being “cheap,” Google is about “knowing more,” but Microsoft is about “doing more”.

Ballmer’s exit will take a fair bit of colour from Microsoft, but at least staff will not have to worry about that ringing in their ears for a month after their January staff shindig.