Dispatches from Microsoft's annual company meeting Thursday, gathered from online and in-person sources who shared information about the...
Dispatches from Microsoft‘s annual company meeting Thursday, gathered from online and in-person sources who shared information about the closed event anonymously:
Seattle native and actor Rainn Wilson of “The Office” was described by one source as a “great emcee” for the event, which was closed to the public.
Toward the end, Wilson yelled to the crowd, “Stand up, losers!” That was prelude to an attempt at a paper-airplane world record.
At past meetings, employees have let fly airplanes from Safeco Field’s upper decks, trying to land them on the stage. Wilson led the crowd in launching thousands of paper planes with the goal of breaking a world record for simultaneous planes aloft.
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The crowd was told the previous record was 12,000. About 23,000 Microsoft employees registered for the company meeting.
CEO Steve Ballmer was in full cheerleader mode. His entrance was marked by pyrotechnics, high-energy, high-fives and — at least according to two anonymous comments on the Mini-Microsoft blog — the takedown of a spectator.
“You were not alone in seeing what looked like a green-shirted SBS finance guy getting knocked flat between 133 or 132 and the field level seating,” one of the sources wrote.
Once on stage, an enthusiastic Ballmer touted Microsoft’s financial performance in fiscal 2008 and explained why Microsoft wouldn’t build an iPhone (the Windows Mobile operating system software has a bigger potential market).
He also addressed the company’s stock price, noting it’s about what it was a decade ago. (He gave us his take on the long-term performance of MSFT during an interview earlier in the summer, calling it “volatile,” not flat.)
One observer summarized his message this way: “He said in general, we have to understand that the market is unpredictable, and we should just stay focused on our job and team goals and work hard.”
Ballmer also reset his retirement horizon. In the summer, Ballmer told an audience in Washington, D.C., that he would be at the helm of Microsoft “for another nine or 10 years … until my last kid goes away to college,” according to InformationWeek.
He told employees Thursday he plans to stay until Microsoft’s Live Search beats Google.
Without having heard the comment ourselves, it’s hard to tell if he was being facetious. Market researcher comScore reported Thursday that Microsoft’s share of the U.S. search market had slipped in August to 8.3 percent. Google has 63 percent.
(One must also consider Ballmer might be thinking Microsoft will catch Google before his last kid goes to college, so his retirement could be sooner than expected.)
As an interesting aside, some in the audience thought Ballmer was drinking honey during his speech.
One observer said he was holding an oddly shaped vessel that upon further inspection appeared to be a honey bottle, in the form of a bear, amber in color. Another person concluded it couldn’t be honey because he was drinking it too quickly.
On the record
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is gathered by The Seattle Times technology staff.
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