business news in context, analysis with attitude

Got several reactions to the statement by former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer that Amazon "isn't a real business."

One MNB user wrote:

Beyond your “patently absurd” characterization (which I wholeheartedly agree with), I would add the following about Ballmer, who is a bully with no strategic imagination. (Why do you say this, Kevin wonders? Glad you asked.)  He missed web search for Explorer.  He missed mobile OS when Android buried him. He missed smartphones, calling the original Apple iPhone DOA (dead on arrival because it didn’t have a physical keyboard).  He even missed putting “Office” on 200 million Apple iOS devices … all arrogant moves.   How about the $7B Quantitative Marketing write off?  Some would say the Yahoo acquisition should be on this list, saved only by Yahoo leader arrogance larger than Ballmer.

Ballmer might have stewarded MSFT along the path to $250B but investors think the Windows/Office monopoly would have allowed a typical leader to achieve the same results.  Under Ballmer’s watch … Google market cap goes from $0 to $370B.  Facebook going to $208B.  How about Apple zooming from almost broke to $616B.  Oh, MSFT?  $377B.  Over a $TRILLION of wealth creation that MSFT couldn’t touch.

Steve belongs in the NBA, where almost any spending decision is backed by significant TV contracts and license agreements. “Nothing But Attorneys” should take good care of him.

And another MNB reader chimed in:

Says a lot about the arrogance of a CEO who says he's, 'proud of the fact I made $250 billion under my watch as CEO'.  Seems to me he probably had a little help from others.  So as not to ruin his sense of being, let's continue letting him believe he did it by himself.

Excellent point.

Regarding the decision by some retailers not to accept Apple Pay because they favor a rival mobile payments system, MNB reader Jim Swoboda wrote:

Hmmm….reminds me of Beta vs. VHS.  Consumer needs were secondary to corporate bias’s there to and an inferior product won.  Sounds very much like the same here after reading about the competing technologies.  Apple Pay is simple, elegant and the easiest to use of anything in the market today.  It’s corporate ego vs. consumer benefit.

Got the following email on the subject of ageism from MNB reader Gerald Lewis:

I am now 83 and still quite active, with a few clients and a lot of industry contacts and read your Wake Up Call every morning.

I was the principal and CEO of CDI Group until we sold it to Miller Zell and I left the company in 2001. Then I became Chairman of a New Zealand-based loyalty provider whose first US program was due to launch in Norfolk VA on Sept 11th 2001.

In 2011 I conceived, assembled and lead the team that developed the Twice Daily brand for Tri Star in Nashville.

In 2007, before the first Tesco Fresh & Easy store was opened, I wrote a piece published by CSP predicting its demise and provided eight reasons why it would not work - all of which turned out to be valid.

I am sure I am not younger than you, so do not meet your definition of being young, but I certainly don't feel old and feel that my perspective, based on having seem the same "new" things coming around and failing over and over, because people fail to learn from George Santayana that those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it They could save a lot of time and money from those of us who have learned it. We're still here and not all in rocking chairs at senior citizens' homes.

I could not agree with you more.

I somehow seem to have gotten myself in a bit of trouble on this subject with a comment the other day that certain executives are young enough to forge new paths … I could've said the same thing about someone in his or her eighties … it is all about attitude.

I've probably told this story before, but … I long have said that my dad, an elementary school principal, used to spend his lunchtimes on the playground playing with the students while his teachers had lunch. He only started to get old when he retired … a lesson that I take with me as I grow older (but not up).
KC's View: