Steve Ballmer

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pages: 390 words: 114,538

Digital Wars: Apple, Google, Microsoft and the Battle for the Internet by Charles Arthur

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AltaVista, Build a better mousetrap, Burning Man, cloud computing, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, disintermediation, don't be evil, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, gravity well, Jeff Bezos, John Gruber, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Network effects, PageRank, pre–internet, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, Snapchat, software patent, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Tim Cook: Apple, upwardly mobile

Therefore, in determining the level of Microsoft’s market power, the relevant market is the licensing of all Intel-compatible PC operating systems world-wide. Findings of fact, United States of America v Microsoft Corporation, Civil Action 98-1232 (Issued November 1999) (the document is available in Adobe PDF, WordPerfect 5.1 and HTML formats, but no Microsoft-proprietary ones) Steve Ballmer Life changed at Microsoft in 2000. On 13 January Steve Ballmer, who in June 1980 had become its 30th employee, was promoted from heading its sales and support operations to chief executive. Bill Gates was still the chairman and ‘chief software architect’, with oversight of how the company should build its tools and products. He would still be involved in key decisions. But Ballmer took over day-to-day responsibility for the company; he would have to embody the qualities that the company now stood for to governments and businesses and individuals.

The rest, around $3 billion, came from software and ‘services’ – such as the iTunes Music Store, the smallest but fastest growing, which had generated almost $1 billion on its own. Zune Billion-dollar digital businesses tend to attract Steve Ballmer’s attention – especially if Microsoft isn’t getting a thick slice of them. Inside Microsoft at the beginning of 2006, the rising tide of iPods, and more importantly the continuing failure of PlaysForSure and subscription services based around it to attract customers away from Apple’s little boxes, had people concerned. ‘There was this big debate about whether we should build [music features] into phones, or go full frontal into battle with the iPod’, recalls Pieter Knook, who was at Microsoft for nearly 20 years and ran the Windows Mobile team from 2001 until spring 2008. ‘Steve [Ballmer] and Robbie [Bach, head of the Entertainment and Devices division, which included the Xbox and Windows Mobile businesses] really favoured that.

This ebook published in 2014 by Kogan Page Limited 2nd Floor, 45 Gee Street London EC1V 3RS UK www.koganpage.com © Charles Arthur, 2012, 2014 E-ISBN 978 0 7494 7204 7 Full imprint details Contents Introduction 01 1998 Bill Gates and Microsoft Steve Jobs and Apple Bill Gates and Steve Jobs Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Google Internet search Capital thinking 02 Microsoft antitrust Steve Ballmer The antitrust trial The outcome of the trial 03 Search: Google versus Microsoft The beginnings of search Google Search and Microsoft Bust Link to money Boom Random access Google and the public consciousness Project Underdog Preparing for battle Do it yourself Going public Competition Cultural differences Microsoft’s relaunched search engine Friends Microsoft’s bid for Yahoo Google’s identity The shadow of antitrust Still underdog 04 Digital music: Apple versus Microsoft The beginning of iTunes Gizmo, Tokyo iPod design Marketing the new product Meanwhile, in Redmond: Microsoft iPods and Windows Music, stored Celebrity marketing iTunes on Windows iPod mini The growth of iTunes Music Store Apple and the mobile phone Stolen!

 

pages: 317 words: 100,414

Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip Tetlock, Dan Gardner

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Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, availability heuristic, Black Swan, butterfly effect, cloud computing, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, forward guidance, Freestyle chess, fundamental attribution error, germ theory of disease, hindsight bias, index fund, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Mikhail Gorbachev, Mohammed Bouazizi, Nash equilibrium, Nate Silver, obamacare, pattern recognition, performance metric, place-making, placebo effect, prediction markets, quantitative easing, random walk, randomized controlled trial, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, The Wisdom of Crowds, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Bryan Glick, “Timing Is Everything in Steve Ballmer’s Departure—Why Microsoft Needs a New Vision,” Computer Weekly Editor’s Blog, August 27, 2013, http://www.computerweekly.com/blogs/editors-blog/2013/08/timing-is-everything-in-steve.html. 3. “Starr Report: Narrative.” Nature of President Clinton’s Relationship with Monica Lewinsky (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 2004), footnote 1128. 4. Sameer Singh, Tech-Thoughts, November 18, 2013, http://www.tech-thoughts.net/2013/11/smartphone-market-share-by-country-q3-2013.html#.VQM0QEJYW-Q. 5. Barry Ritholtz, “2010 Reminder: QE = Currency Debasement and Inflation,” The Big Picture, November 15, 2013, http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/2013/11/qe-debasement-inflation/print/. 6. A similar problem bedevils Steve Ballmer’s iPhone prediction.

It is a tablespoon of doubt. 3 Keeping Score When physicians finally learned to doubt themselves, they turned to randomized controlled trials to scientifically test which treatments work. Bringing the rigor of measurement to forecasting might seem easiesr to do: collect forecasts, judge their accuracy, add the numbers. That’s it. In no time, we’ll know how good Tom Friedman really is. But it’s not nearly so simple. Consider a forecast Steve Ballmer made in 2007, when he was CEO of Microsoft: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance.” Ballmer’s forecast is infamous. Google “Ballmer” and “worst tech predictions”—or “Bing” it, as Ballmer would prefer—and you will see it enshrined in the forecasting hall of shame, along with such classics as the president of Digital Equipment Corporation declaring in 1977 that “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

Note also that Ballmer didn’t say the iPhone would be a bust for Apple. Indeed, he said, “They may make a lot of money.” But still there is ambiguity: how much more than 2% or 3% of the global mobile phone market would the iPhone have to capture to be deemed “significant”? Ballmer didn’t say. And how much money was he talking about when he said Apple could earn “a lot of money”? Again, he didn’t say. So how wrong was Steve Ballmer’s forecast? His tone was brash and dismissive. In the USA Today interview, he seems to scoff at Apple. But his words were more nuanced than his tone, and too ambiguous for us to declare with certainty that his forecast was wrong—much less so spectacularly wrong it belongs in the forecasting hall of shame. It is far from unusual that a forecast that at first looks as clear as a freshly washed window proves too opaque to be conclusively judged right or wrong.

 

pages: 310 words: 91,151

Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children by John Wood

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airport security, British Empire, call centre, clean water, corporate social responsibility, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, fear of failure, glass ceiling, high net worth, income per capita, Jeff Bezos, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, microcredit, Own Your Own Home, random walk, rolodex, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Ballmer

“Beep. You…have…no…new…messages,” the mechanical voice announced. It might as well have added the word “loser” at the end. With the software industry doubling every year, and Microsoft fighting to capture market share in every major category, the stakes seemed high enough to justify self-sacrifice. The corporate culture reinforced this mania. It wasn’t until I finished a set of meetings with Steve Ballmer, Microsoft’s hard-charging, demanding, and voluble second-in-command, that I convinced myself that I had earned a break. Ballmer was in Sydney reviewing our work in Asia. When we finished his business-review meetings, a two-day-long event where Ballmer tended to shout and harangue, a colleague—Ben—suggested we unwind by going to a slide show about trekking in Nepal given by a local adventure travel company.

I was long overdue for a holiday. When the presenter mentioned that the Annapurna Circuit was a “classic trek that takes three weeks, covers two hundred miles, and gets you as far out in the Himalayas as you could imagine,” I mentally began booking the time off. Next stop, Nepal. Over a Mongolian hot-pot dinner with Ben, I joked that maybe if you went high enough into the Himalayas, you could not hear Steve Ballmer screaming at you. BACK IN NEPAL, CROWING ROOSTERS WOKE ME JUST BEFORE SUNRISE. The Timex Ironman read six o’clock. I debated snoozing a bit longer before meeting with Pasupathi for tea. The Himalayan dawn was cold; the four-season North Face bag felt like a pizza oven. But excitement over finally being in Nepal won out. I put on a warm thermal layer before leaving the bag. Fog blanketed the river valley.

.* The message this sent to employees was that if the company did well in the long term, they would also. But there were no guarantees, and only hard work and smart strategic thinking would increase the odds of this calculated risk paying off. Like much of history, it seems obvious in retrospect that this was a fantastic trade-off, but at the time none of us knew. By 1999, those of us who had been at the company for a long time had done quite well. I give most of the credit to Bill and Steve Ballmer for their visionary leadership and their tenacious attention to detail. The two of them reminded me of a theory of Warren Buffett’s that I had read—whom you work for makes a big difference. Buffett recalled that a long time ago, baseball players like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig voted a full share of their World Series proceeds to their batboy. “The key to life,” said Buffett, “is to figure out who to be the batboy for.”

 

pages: 56 words: 16,788

The New Kingmakers by Stephen O'Grady

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Amazon Web Services, barriers to entry, cloud computing, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, DevOps, Jeff Bezos, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Netflix Prize, Paul Graham, Silicon Valley, Skype, software as a service, software is eating the world, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Tim Cook: Apple, Y Combinator

Microsoft In a May 2001 address at the Stern School of Business entitled “The Commercial Software Model,” Microsoft Senior Vice President Craig Mundie said that the Gnu Public License (GPL)—the license that governs the Linux kernel, among other projects—posed “a threat to the intellectual property of any organization making use of it.” A month later, in an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer characterized Linux as a “cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches.” Six years later, Ballmer and Microsoft were on the offensive, alleging in an interview with Fortune that the Linux kernel violates 42 Microsoft patents. In 2009, Microsoft, calling it “the community’s preferred license,” released 20,000 lines of code under the GPL, intended for inclusion into the Linux kernel.

On the cloud, developers can employ Microsoft’s .NET stack or erstwhile competitors like Java, JavaScript, or PHP, and build software in the open source Eclipse development environment. And since 2008, Microsoft has been a sponsor of the Apache Software Foundation, an open source governance non-profit. In other words, the once-dominant Microsoft is adjusting to the shifting landscape; one in which the developers, not the vendors, are in charge. Steve Ballmer, famous for jumping up and down on a stage screaming, “DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS! DEVELOPERS!” finally seems to be putting them front and center with the company’s strategy. Netflix In an interview with Fortune in 2007, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings summed up his company’s future simply, saying “We named the company Netflix for a reason; we didn’t name it DVDs-by-mail. The opportunity for Netflix online arrives when we can deliver content to the TV without any intermediary device.”

 

pages: 275 words: 84,418

Dogfight: How Apple and Google Went to War and Started a Revolution by Fred Vogelstein

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Apple II, cloud computing, disintermediation, don't be evil, Dynabook, Firefox, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, Googley, Jony Ive, Mark Zuckerberg, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, software patent, spectrum auction, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Tim Cook: Apple, web application

Windows CE smartphones were still a niche market, but if consumers took to the platform en masse as they did later with the iPhone, Google’s entire business could be in jeopardy. This wasn’t an exaggeration. Back then, Microsoft and Google were in the midst of a nasty battle of their own for dominance in search, and for top dog in the tech world. After two decades of being the first-choice workplace of top engineering talent, Microsoft was now losing many of those battles to Google. Chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer had made it clear they took Google’s challenge personally. Gates seemed particularly affected by it. Once or twice he made fun of the way Page and his Google cofounder Sergey Brin dressed. He said their search engine’s popularity was “a fad.” Then, in the same breath, he would issue the ultimate compliment, saying that of all his competitors over the years, Google was the most like Microsoft.

Key features of the iPhone were far from perfected. Its memory and the virtual keyboard, already one of its most controversial features, still didn’t work right. Touching the letter e—the most frequently used letter in the alphabet—often caused other letters to pop up around the keyboard. Instead of appearing instantly after being “typed,” letters would emerge after annoying lags. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer had been among the many declaring the iPhone a failed product because it didn’t have a physical keyboard. Apple executives were worried too. They weren’t comfortable using the keyboard either. “Everyone was concerned about touching on something that doesn’t have any physical feedback,” one of the executives said. But Jobs was unyielding on the issue. “Steve’s rationale was just what he said onstage.

And, of course, BlackBerry was quite strong [with a lock on almost every corporation in the world].” So, while Brin, Page, and Schmidt were pushing the Android team hard, they were also beefing up the Google iPhone team. Most notably, they put Vic Gundotra, a newly hired but well-known executive from Microsoft, in charge of running it. Gundotra, who was thirty-seven, had spent his entire career working for Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, becoming their point person for the company’s relationship with all external Windows software developers—tens of thousands of geeks worldwide. Gundotra was well-known for his technical acumen, his near-Steve-Jobs-quality presentations, and his willingness to take risks and be controversial. Microsoft’s incredible growth and dominance during the 1990s was in no small part the result of his tireless evangelism, convincing legions of programmers worldwide to write software for Windows when few thought it would succeed.

 

pages: 532 words: 139,706

Googled: The End of the World as We Know It by Ken Auletta

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23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, bioinformatics, Burning Man, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, corporate social responsibility, death of newspapers, disintermediation, don't be evil, facts on the ground, Firefox, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hypertext link, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Peter Thiel, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, social graph, spectrum auction, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, strikebreaker, telemarketer, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Upton Sinclair, X Prize, yield management

They would have been even more perturbed to hear Eric Schmidt say that YouTube’s real challenge was to figure out how to sell advertising. “If that works,” he told me, “it will seem like the birth of the CBS network in 1927.” Because YouTube was making no money, there was a fair amount of sneering from media executives. Like Napster, they said YouTube would be hobbled by copyright lawsuits and would be unable to monetize its enormous traffic. “Right now,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer declared, “there’s no business model for YouTube that would justify $1.6 billion. And what about the rights holders? At the end of the day, a lot of the content that’s up there is owned by somebody else.” That “somebody else,” the broadcast and cable networks believed, was them. YouTube, they asserted, built its success on their backs; thirteen of the twenty most popular videos on the site, the Wall Street Journal reported in early 2007, were professionally made, not user generated.

Moore’s law was a statement saying, ‘We’re going to double the performance [of integrated circuits or computer chips] every eighteen months, and let’s get organized to do it.’ They spent billions of dollars doing that. If you didn’t have Moore’s law, you wouldn’t have that advancement. It’s actually causal in another way.” The management pressure to double performance helps assure it. IN SPITE OF GOOGLE’S RAPID GROWTH, or because of it, by 2007 the company had become a target for lawsuits and sneers. Leading the chorus was Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. In 2007, he had labeled Google “a one-trick pony,” and had derided the company at nearly every public opportunity since, telling reporters, “they have one product that makes all their money, and it hasn’t changed in five years.... Search makes ninety-eight percent of all their money.” Irwin Gotlieb, who is not in Ballmer’s adversarial camp, nevertheless shared the view that Google’s attempt to broaden its reach had been a failure.

Google’s revenues had surged 42 percent compared to the first quarter of 2007; its profits had jumped 30 percent, and as Varian had suggested, its ad clicks had risen 20 percent. “Google Inc’s Go-Go Era Apparently Isn’t Over,” said a report in the Wall Street Journal. The Times headline was: “Google Defies the Economy and Reports a Profit Surge.” As the report showed, Google hogged three quarters of all U.S. search advertising dollars, compared to only 5 percent for Steve Ballmer’s Microsoft. Yet Ballmer had a point. Google had not figured out how to make money on its surfeit of products. YouTube accounted for one of every three videos viewed online, three billion of the nine billion viewed in January 2008. The impact of this new medium would forever change the way politics are conducted. Seven of the sixteen candidates who ran for president in 2008 announced their candidacies on YouTube, and more people saw a taped version of the July 2007 Democratic presidential debate there than live on CNN.

 

pages: 455 words: 133,322

The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick

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Andy Kessler, Burning Man, delayed gratification, demand response, don't be evil, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, Howard Rheingold, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Network effects, Peter Thiel, rolodex, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, social graph, social software, social web, Startup school, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Whole Earth Review, winner-take-all economy, Y Combinator

To fight back and defend its turf, Microsoft was now going head to head with Google across the board in online advertising. As part of this effort, it was investing billions of dollars to improve its own online search software. Separately, it had in May made its biggest purchase ever—paying $6 billion for aQuantive, which distributed advertising across the Internet. Now that it owned this distribution engine, it badly needed additional inventory to sell through it. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was fed up with losing deals to Google. He had recently lost both of the industry’s two biggest partnership opportunities after coming exquisitely close to agreement. Each time, Google swooped in at the last minute and stole the deal away. Ballmer had flown to New York in December 2005 to negotiate a major ad partnership with Time Warner’s AOL. He left town thinking he had a deal. Google unleashed its ad team headed by Tim Armstrong and came in with a better offer in days and sealed a contract with a $1 billion investment in AOL that valued it at $20 billion.

They noticed he kept pushing for very specific concessions on things like the size and shape of display ads—the kind of thing usually left to underlings to iron out. It seemed to them he might be seeking specific promises from Google in order to strong-arm Microsoft to concede the same points. For all the talk, the Google team knew that Microsoft’s prior relationship with Facebook gave it a big advantage. The chances of pulling Facebook away remained small. Microsoft had been carefully cultivating Zuckerberg. CEO Steve Ballmer had flown to Palo Alto to visit his young counterpart twice. Ray Ozzie, Microsoft’s Chief Software Architect, had also repeatedly visited Palo Alto. As Zuckerberg is wont to do, he took them on long walks. He told Ballmer that Facebook was raising money at a $15 billion valuation. But Ballmer had come with something very specific in mind. “Why don’t we just buy you for $15 billion?” he replied, according to a very knowledgeable source.

The Wall Street Journal called Facebook “the newest Internet darling” and said the deal was “reminiscent of the Internet bubble that ended in 2000.” The Los Angeles Times called the $15 billion figure “staggering.” “It tips the scales in terms of totally ridiculous valuations,” wrote the influential TechDirt blog. This was by far the highest valuation ever given to a private technology company, and one with no profits to boot! Either Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer was insane, or Facebook mattered more than anyone had realized. But if the f8 platform event five months earlier had firmly put Facebook once and for all onto the technology industry map, this investment did the same thing for Facebook on Wall Street. Microsoft’s stock jumped markedly. The ad deal that precipitated the investment was barely noticed in the hubbub over the valuation. Facebook’s timing on the deal could not have been better.

 

pages: 236 words: 66,081

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age by Clay Shirky

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Andrew Keen, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, citizen journalism, corporate social responsibility, Dean Kamen, experimental economics, experimental subject, fundamental attribution error, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, Kevin Kelly, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, social software, Steve Ballmer, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, ultimatum game

The dramatically reduced cost of public address, and the dramatically increased size of the population wired together, means that we can now turn massive aggregations of small contributions into things of lasting value. This fact, key to our current era, has been a persistent surprise. At every turn, skeptical observers have attacked the idea that pooling our cognitive surplus could work to create anything worthwhile, or suggested that if it does work, it is a kind of cheating, because sharing at a scale that competes with older institutions is somehow wrong. Steve Ballmer of Microsoft denounced the shared production of software as communism. Robert McHenry, a former editor in chief of Encyclopedia Britannica, likened Wikipedia to a public rest room. Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur, compared bloggers to monkeys. These complaints, self-interested though they were, echoed more broadly held beliefs. Shared, unmanaged effort might be fine for picnics and bowling leagues, but serious work is done for money, by people who work in proper organizations, with managers directing their work.

storyCode=401139&sectioncode=26 (accessed January 9, 2010). 151 an essay called “The Zagat Effect”: Steven Shaw’s “The Zagat Effect” appeared in Commentary Magazine (November 2000): 47-50. 154 Chris Anderson, author of Free: Chris Anderson, Free: The Future of a Radical Price (New York: Hyperion, 2009): 194-95. 156 The largest studies on PLS or PMA: “Charting the Course of PLS and PMA,” The PatientsLikeMe Blog, August 11, 2009, http://blog.patientslikeme.com/2009/08/11/charting-the-course-of-pls-and-pma (accessed January 9, 2010). 157 he got his neurologist to alter his 10mg dose of baclofen: Thomas Goetz tells the baclofen story in “Practicing Patients,” about the rising involvement of patients in all aspects of their diagnosis and care. The New York Times Magazine, March 23, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/23/magazine/23patients-t.html (accessed January 9, 2010). 158 it also has an “openness philosophy”: “The Value of Openness,” The PatientsLikeMe Blog, December 13, 2007, http://blog.patientslikeme.com/2007/12/13/the-value-of-openness (accessed January 9, 2010). CHAPTER 6: Personal, Communal, Public, Civic 161 Steve Ballmer of Microsoft denounced the shared production of software: Lea Graham, “MS Ballmer: Linux Is Communism,” The Register, July 31, 2000, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2000/07/31/ms_ballmer_linux_is_communism/ (accessed January 10, 2010). 162 Robert McHenry, “The Faith-Based Encyclopedia,” Technology Commerce Society Daily, November 15, 2004, http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=111504A (accessed January 10, 2010). 162 compared bloggors to monkeys: Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amatuer: How Blogs, MySpace, YouTube, and the Rest of Today’s User-Generated Media Are Destroying Our Economy, Our Culture, and Our Values (New York: Broadway Business, 2007): 2. 163 a slim volume called Experiences in Groups: W.

 

pages: 252 words: 70,424

The Self-Made Billionaire Effect: How Extreme Producers Create Massive Value by John Sviokla, Mitch Cohen

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Cass Sunstein, Colonization of Mars, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Elon Musk, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, global supply chain, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Jony Ive, loss aversion, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, paper trading, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart meter, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Tony Hsieh, Toyota Production System, young professional

While these partnerships are necessary, the exact makeup of the Producer-Performer pair may change depending on the skills needed to take advantage of an opportunity. As Mark Cuban attests, the complement he needed for MicroSolutions was Martin Woodall, but the Broadcast.com dream team included Todd Wagner. Bill Gates started out with Paul Allen, but he also had a long-term Producer-Performer partnership with Steve Ballmer, during which Microsoft created most of its value. Jobs and Wozniak created the iconic computer maker, but Jobs and Jony Ive, Apple’s chief designer, were the team behind the beauty and sensibility of the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. John Paul DeJoria and Paul Mitchell founded John Paul Mitchell Systems, but years later DeJoria started another venture with his friend Martin Crowley, a talented architect who went bankrupt trying to make a business designing buildings.8 DeJoria pointed him in a different direction and set him up as an architecture buyer supplying materials from Mexico for high-end renovations.

At the time, the Carnival Cruise Lines was a three-ship company, but Arison had a vision of turning cruising into a mainstream vacation option. He purchased smaller companies and invested in more boats. The Carnival parent today owns nearly a dozen cruise lines, including Cunard, Holland America Line, and Princess Cruises. Arison is also the owner of the Miami Heat basketball team. Steven Ballmer b. 1956, United States Microsoft In 1980, two years after graduating from Harvard, Steve Ballmer was invited by fellow student Bill Gates to join a fledgling Microsoft as its manager of operations. Within a year, Microsoft signed its breakthrough deal with IBM to design an operating system for the company’s new product, the personal computer. Ballmer became the marketing and sales guru, and was key to realizing Gates’s vision. As second in command, he accumulated significant equity in the company that made him a billionaire.

 

pages: 230 words: 71,320

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

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affirmative action, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, computer age, medical residency, popular electronics, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, union organizing, upwardly mobile, why are manhole covers round?

He also hung out in the computer room with Gates and shared those long evenings at ISI and C-Cubed. Allen went on to found Microsoft with Bill Gates. When was Paul Allen born? Paul Allen: January 21, 1953 The third-richest man at Microsoft is the one who has been running the company on a day-to-day basis since 2000, one of the most respected executives in the software world, Steve Ballmer. Ballmer's birth date? Steve Ballmer: March 24,1956 Let's not forget a man every bit as famous as Gates: Steve Jobs, the cofounder of Apple Computer. Unlike Gates, Jobs wasn't from a rich family and he didn't go to Michigan, like Joy. But it doesn't take much investigation of his upbringing to realize that he had his Hamburg too. He grew up in Mountain View, California, just south of San Francisco, which is the absolute epicenter of Silicon Valley.

 

pages: 94 words: 26,453

The End of Nice: How to Be Human in a World Run by Robots (Kindle Single) by Richard Newton

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3D printing, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Clayton Christensen, crowdsourcing, deliberate practice, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, future of work, Google Glasses, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Lean Startup, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, Paul Erdős, Paul Graham, recommendation engine, rising living standards, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Y Combinator

In a world that is nice and prizes conformity, routine work and standardisation of opinion, the contrast to normal behaviour by those who are unreasonable, is very apparent. In some examples this signals enormous amounts of grit, and there seems to be a correlation between the disagreeableness of some legendary entrepreneurs and their success. Steve Jobs was famous for his prickliness, Bill Gates threw tantrums, Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer threw chairs, Andy Grove of Intel was so fierce that a subordinate fainted during a performance review, and Jeff Bezos is known for going into rages that his Amazon colleagues call “nutters”. According to a biography, Bezos’ notable put-downs include: “I’m sorry, did I forget to take my stupid pills today?”; “If I hear that idea again I’m gonna have to kill myself”; and the straightforward “Why are you wasting my life?”

 

pages: 538 words: 147,612

All the Money in the World by Peter W. Bernstein

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Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, call centre, corporate governance, currency peg, David Brooks, Donald Trump, estate planning, family office, financial innovation, George Gilder, high net worth, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, job automation, job-hopping, Long Term Capital Management, Martin Wolf, Maui Hawaii, means of production, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, PageRank, Peter Singer: altruism, pez dispenser, popular electronics, Renaissance Technologies, Rod Stewart played at Stephen Schwarzman birthday party, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, school vouchers, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, traveling salesman, urban planning, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce

“Paul saw that the technology17 was there,” Gates later recalled. “He kept saying, ‘It’s gonna be too late. We’ll miss it.’” They teamed up to write a version of BASIC (short for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code), a compact computer language for the MITS machine, and Microsoft was born. When Microsoft had about thirty-five employees, Gates and Allen decided they needed a professional manager. They turned to Steve Ballmer, who had lived down the hall from Gates at Harvard. Unlike Gates, Ballmer, the son of Swiss immigrants, hung around Cambridge long enough to get his Harvard degree in math and economics. Brainy Ballmer then headed to Stanford for a master’s, but quit to take the Microsoft job as head of marketing, user education, and systems testing. * * * The Forbes 400 melting pot The 97 immigrants who have appeared on the Forbes list over the last 25 years came from 34 different countries.

Few companies want to engage in a lengthy court battle with the government, but Ellison did and prevailed. He then sued PeopleSoft to eliminate the takeover defense it had put in place to deter Oracle. As Matthew Symonds, a writer at the Economist and author of another Ellison biography put it, “He stalked PeopleSoft a long time until it was weak enough to fall into his hands.” The same winner-take-all philosophy drove Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, his longtime number two at Microsoft and fellow 400 member. Ballmer had a reputation for being even more competitive than his boss. Once they had defeated such 1980s competitors21 as Apple, Novell, and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), they turned their collective attention to the Internet. That meant capturing control of what was then a new technology, the Internet browser used to access the Web.

More than a century after New York newspaper publisher Horace Greeley advised young fortune hunters in a now-famous editorial to “Go West, Young Man,” his maxim has taken on a fresh resonance with the transformation of the West Coast into a new kind of frontier. Now, instead of prospecting for gold or wildcatting for oil, the would-be billionaires moving out West are making their lucre in industries based on ideas. The West Coast not only has Bill Gates and several other Forbes 400 fortunes generated by Microsoft, including Steve Ballmer (2006 net worth: $13.6 billion), Paul Allen (2006 net worth: $16 billion), and Charles Simonyi (2006 net worth: $1 billion); it also has dozens more billionaires than does the East Coast. * * * New York’s down, California’s up In 1982 New York was at the top of the heap, with more 400 members than any other state. California placed third, behind second-place Texas. But starting in 1991 California took the lead, and it widened until recently, when New York, flush with hedge fund and private equity riches, mounted a small comeback.

 

pages: 666 words: 181,495

In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our Lives by Steven Levy

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23andMe, AltaVista, Anne Wojcicki, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business process, clean water, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dean Kamen, discounted cash flows, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, El Camino Real, fault tolerance, Firefox, Gerard Salton, Google bus, Google Chrome, Google Earth, Googley, HyperCard, hypertext link, IBM and the Holocaust, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, PageRank, Paul Buchheit, Potemkin village, prediction markets, recommendation engine, risk tolerance, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, search inside the book, second-price auction, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, slashdot, social graph, social software, social web, spectrum auction, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, trade route, traveling salesman, Vannevar Bush, web application, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

“It’s a company without revenue but asking for a billion dollars,” he said to Lee. “Those two kids are crazy!” After it became clear that Google was not just an innovator but a financial powerhouse with resources to take on Microsoft, the rivalry took on a bloodlust. Just how intensely Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, despised his competitor to the south became clear in depositions that would be filed in the Lee lawsuit. The year before, in November 2004, a top Microsoft executive named Mark Lucovsky had gone to Steve Ballmer with the unwelcome news that he was leaving Microsoft. “Just tell me it’s not Google,” said Ballmer, according to Lucovsky’s sworn testimony. Lucovsky confirmed that it was indeed Google. Lucovsky testified that Ballmer went ballistic: “Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy! I’m going to fucking bury that guy!

“We use a fair amount of energy,” says Bill Weihl, a computer science PhD who came to Google in 2005 to become its conservation czar. “Some people say ‘massive amounts.’ I try to avoid ‘massive.’ But it’s a lot.” He would not put a number on it. “The fact that we’re not transparent about it causes us embarrassment,” he says, explaining that “competitive reasons” justify the reticence. By not knowing what Google is spending, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, for instance, will have no target to aim at when apportioning his own cost estimates for infrastructure. “If I’m Ballmer, I’m probably going to pick a number that’s too high, in which case it bankrupts Microsoft—and that’s good for Google,” says Weihl. “Or he’ll pick a number that’s too low, in which case it can’t really compete. And that’s good for Google.” One of the most power-intensive components of the operation is the huge chillers that refrigerate water to keep the temperature in the building no higher than around 80 degrees F.

After many years of relatively poor efforts, Microsoft was now committed to spending hundreds of millions of dollars to build a competitive engine. To head the team, it hired the scientist Qi Lu, a forty-eight-year-old whose tireless work habits were legendary. Those regarding this as a coup included Google’s search czar, Udi Manber: “I have the highest regard for him,” he said. Microsoft called its new search engine Bing, and it was launched in June 2009 by CEO Steve Ballmer with great fanfare. In terms of search quality, Bing did not intimidate Google. Its relevance algorithms were basically no different from those in the previous version of Microsoft’s search, much less likely to draw out the Audrey Fino–like needles in the Internet haystack. Eventually that could change, as Microsoft would supply Bing to Yahoo for the latter company’s search engine. That would provide Microsoft with a critical mass of users to run the thousands of constant experiments necessary to improve search quality.

 

pages: 327 words: 102,322

Losing the Signal: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of BlackBerry by Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff

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Albert Einstein, Clayton Christensen, corporate governance, diversified portfolio, indoor plumbing, Iridium satellite, patent troll, QWERTY keyboard, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs

It was light on battery use and e-mails were dispatched so efficiently that an average month of messages consumed less network spectrum than one local telephone call.5 It was one thing to buck an industry fad. The bigger danger was that some global mammoth would simply smash the small Waterloo upstart. The rival Balsillie and Lazaridis worried about most was Microsoft after it signaled an interest in wireless e-mail by joining a short-lived venture with semiconductor maker Qualcomm in the late 1990s. At the same time Microsoft executives, including CEO Steve Ballmer, began asking RIM staff questions at trade shows about how BlackBerry worked. Microsoft’s combative generals would not be thrown off by the playful ruses that kept Yankowski at bay. Nor was Balsillie inclined to mess with them. “I had an expression: Never moon the gorilla,” Balsillie says. “Microsoft was the gorilla. We cut them by far the widest berth of anyone.” Balsillie’s strategy for dealing with Microsoft was to undersell RIM’s potential.

While the board negotiated a contract with Heins, Balsillie and Lazaridis went about their jobs, telling no one, not even their closest colleagues, of the coming changes. They made their last pilgrimage to Las Vegas in early January for the Consumer Electronics Show, the industry’s annual showcase for the latest mass market technology breakthroughs. They met in private with Lenovo’s executive team, led by chairman and CEO Yang Yuanqing, to explore licensing RIM’s phone software to the Chinese handset maker. They sat down with Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, a longtime BlackBerry admirer. Side by side they glided through the convention, stopping to stare in wonder at Samsung’s arena-sized marketing display for its high-end, Android-powered Galaxy Note smartphone. BlackBerry, Balsillie mused, was still late with its 4G phone and had only a fraction of the marketing muscle needed to compete with the sprawling Korean manufacturer. Glad I’m almost out of here, Balsillie told himself.

 

pages: 464 words: 155,696

Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender, Rick Tetzeli

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Albert Einstein, Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, computer age, corporate governance, El Camino Real, Isaac Newton, Jony Ive, market design, McMansion, Menlo Park, Paul Terrell, popular electronics, QWERTY keyboard, Ronald Reagan, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tim Cook: Apple, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog

The arrival of computer companies transformed the event, and within a few years it would become the largest digital technology exposition of them all, drawing audiences upwards of 150,000 and all but paralyzing Sin City for a week each January. Apple didn’t attend CES. Steve preferred to announce his products in an environment he controlled. Microsoft didn’t control CES, but it certainly overshadowed everyone else. Chairman Gates, who relinquished his CEO title to Steve Ballmer in 2000, gave the keynote speech eight years running. Gates was a natural choice as the show’s semipermanent celebrity speaker, and he used the dais as a bully pulpit. In 2000, Microsoft really was the computer industry. Some 90 percent of the world’s personal computers ran its Windows operating system. Its software managed not only desktop and laptop PCs but also the servers that stored and organized the data of the world’s biggest corporations, and that undergirded the information technology of most governmental bureaucracies.

He wanted Microsoft software on billions of devices; Steve just wanted anything that would help him sell a few thousand more Macs each month. Gates was the only one who could reasonably think about dominating his awkwardly named but clearly inevitable “consumer-electronics-plus” era. He was powerful, and very, very smart: despite his penchant for dense verbiage, he had done a wonderful job describing the future of computing as we now have it, some fifteen years later. All he and Steve Ballmer had to do was execute the strategy. If they could, they would steer the company through its transition to this future, and in so doing return Microsoft to the kind of growth that investors wanted to see. No one knew it at the time, but Gates’s speech that January morning in Las Vegas marked the apex of Microsoft’s hegemony. On December 31, 1999, the company had been worth $619.3 billion, with a share price of $58.38.

 

pages: 291 words: 77,596

Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything by C. Gordon Bell, Jim Gemmell

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airport security, Albert Einstein, book scanning, cloud computing, conceptual framework, full text search, information retrieval, invention of writing, inventory management, Isaac Newton, Menlo Park, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, RFID, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Ted Nelson, telepresence, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, web application

Many companies run their entire businesses using remote servers, without having to invest in computers, storage, or associated software. To serve this need, Amazon, which has vast amounts of excess storage, has a service called EC2, for Elastic Compute Cloud. Likewise, Microsoft has Azure, a cloud-based operating system that will let companies develop and run Web applications without setting up their own data center. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has predicted that nearly all Internet data centers will be outsourced in this way by 2020. Cloud computing will lead to a single, integrated e-memory experience. Every device will act as an access point to recall from your e-memory. And every device will also become a source of information feeding into your e-memory, helping to record your experience. Most people’s cloud-interface device of choice is going to be a small, lightweight device that combines the functions of a cell phone, a camera, a personal digital assistant, a Web browser, an MP3 player, a GPS locator, and any other sensors and functions that can be crammed into it.

 

pages: 285 words: 81,743

Start-Up Nation: The Story of Israel's Economic Miracle by Dan Senor; Saul Singer

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agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, Boycotts of Israel, call centre, Celtic Tiger, cleantech, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, friendly fire, immigration reform, labor-force participation, new economy, pez dispenser, post scarcity, profit motive, Silicon Valley, smart grid, social graph, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Ballmer, web application, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

This is totally unmatched in the economic history of the world.” And, he told us, the Israeli entrepreneur continues to perform in unimaginable ways.12 While the Holy Land has for centuries attracted pilgrims, lately it has been flooded by seekers of a different sort. Google’s CEO and chairman, Eric Schmidt, told us that the United States is the number one place in the world for entrepreneurs, but “after the U.S., Israel is the best.” Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has called Microsoft “an Israeli company as much as an American company” because of the size and centrality of its Israeli teams.13 Warren Buffett, the apostle of risk aversion, broke his decades-long record of not buying any foreign company with the purchase of an Israeli company—for $4.5 billion—just as Israel began to fight the 2006 Lebanon war. It is impossible for major technology companies to ignore Israel, and most haven’t; almost half of the world’s top technology companies have bought start-ups or opened research and development centers in Israel.

 

pages: 307 words: 17,123

Behind the cloud: the untold story of how Salesforce.com went from idea to billion-dollar company--and revolutionized an industry by Marc Benioff, Carlye Adler

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Albert Einstein, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bay Area Rapid Transit, business continuity plan, call centre, carbon footprint, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, iterative process, Maui Hawaii, Nicholas Carr, platform as a service, Silicon Valley, software as a service, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs

For example, when I heard that Microsoft (finally) announced that it wanted to enter the SaaS business with a CRM product, I fired off an e-mail to select journalists: ‘‘Well, it’s 7:29 A.M. in Singapore, and I just read that Microsoft announced a new offering to compete with us while I was asleep.’’ I included the interoffice memo that I had written (I’d done this before; tactics dictate strategy), and the San Francisco Chronicle ran an article about my response on its Web site. They included what I said in the e-mail and even reiterated their ‘‘favorite line’’ of the memo: ‘‘Steve Ballmer has publicly fretted that he would not be ‘out-hustled by anyone,’ but the fact is that Microsoft is being out-hustled by everyone.’’ Even better, they ran the entire memo in another section. No doubt, sending carefully chosen members of the press well-crafted office memos is one more way to get your story told. A large part of our marketing and PR strategy is making sure that we always remain relevant.

 

pages: 239 words: 56,531

The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine by Peter Lunenfeld

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Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, butterfly effect, computer age, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, East Village, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Grace Hopper, gravity well, Guggenheim Bilbao, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Post-materialism, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert X Cringely, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, social software, spaced repetition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, walkable city, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

As important as their early success with the Apple II was, however, their greatest impact came seven years later, when they took the inspiration of people like Engelbart and Kay, and created a mass-market personal computer that set a new standard for participation. Before we get to that, we need to return to 1976, and move from Silicon Valley to New Mexico, where Gates and his partners, including former Harvard friends Paul Allen and Steve Ballmer, were writing programs for the Altair computer. That was the year that Gates wrote a famous letter to the hobbyist community complaining about rampant software theft. He claimed that nothing would please him more than establishing a business model for the community that would allow him to hire ten programmers to write software full time for the hobbyist market. Just four years later, Microsoft was profitably writing closedsource code for a variety of platforms, and Gates was approached by IBM, then the biggest computer company in the world, to supply a stable operating system for Big Blue’s new line of personal computers.

 

pages: 270 words: 79,068

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz

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Airbnb, business intelligence, cloud computing, financial independence, Google Glasses, hiring and firing, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, move fast and break things, new economy, nuclear winter, Peter Thiel, Productivity paradox, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs

WHAT HAPPENS AT SUCCESSION? This brings us to the question of succession. Since most organizations are run by Ones and have a team of Twos (sometimes Functional Ones) reporting to them, replacing the CEO can be extremely tricky. Do you promote someone from the executive staff even though they are likely a Two? Microsoft did this in 2000 when they replaced Bill Gates, a prototypical One, with Steve Ballmer, literally his number two. Or do you reach deep into the organization and pull a One from a level lower where they are likely to exist? General Electric famously did this with Jack Welch in 1981. It was an incredibly bold move by GE—not only did they promote an executive two levels down in the organizational chart past all of his superiors, but in doing so they named the youngest CEO in the history of GE.

 

pages: 364 words: 101,286

The Misbehavior of Markets by Benoit Mandelbrot

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Albert Einstein, asset allocation, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, Benoit Mandelbrot, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Black-Scholes formula, British Empire, Brownian motion, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, carbon-based life, discounted cash flows, diversification, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Elliott wave, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fellow of the Royal Society, full employment, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, implied volatility, index fund, informal economy, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, market microstructure, new economy, paper trading, passive investing, Paul Lévy, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, random walk, risk tolerance, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, short selling, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, stochastic volatility, transfer pricing, value at risk, volatility smile

He stole the show. The conference-goers, among the best-known financiers, entrepreneurs, and CEOs in Europe—preeminent risk-takers, all—listened at first in bemusement. Not your usual conference speaker. Then they got sucked into his strange story. Some said he made more sense than their CFOs. Afterwards, in our audiencefeedback survey, they rated him as best speaker of the day—tied only by Steve Ballmer, the Microsoft CEO. As a scientist, Mandelbrot’s fame rests on his founding of fractal geometry, and on his showing how it applies in many fields. A fractal, a term he coined from the Latin for “broken,” is a geometric shape that can be broken into smaller parts, each a small-scale echo of the whole. The branches of a tree, the florets of a cauliflower, the bifurcations of a river—all are examples of natural fractals.

 

pages: 342 words: 99,390

The greatest trade ever: the behind-the-scenes story of how John Paulson defied Wall Street and made financial history by Gregory Zuckerman

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1960s counterculture, banking crisis, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, financial innovation, fixed income, index fund, Isaac Newton, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, merger arbitrage, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, Ponzi scheme, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, rolodex, short selling, Silicon Valley, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Wozniak, technology bubble

That is fine; I am content with my rewards. Moreover, I will let others try to amass nine, ten, or eleven-figure net worths. Meanwhile, their lives suck. Appointments back to back, booked solid for the next three months, they look forward to their two-week vacation in January during which they will likely be glued to their BlackBerries or other such devices. What is the point? They will all be forgotten in fifty years anyway. Steve Ballmer, Steven Cohen, and Larry Ellison will all be forgotten. I do not understand the legacy thing. Nearly everyone will be forgotten. Give up on leaving your mark. Throw the BlackBerry away and enjoy life. So this is it. With all due respect, I am dropping out. …... I truly do not have a strong opinion about any market right now, other than to say that things will continue to get worse for some time, probably years.

 

pages: 297 words: 89,820

The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Commerce, Culture, and Coolness by Steven Levy

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Apple II, British Empire, Claude Shannon: information theory, en.wikipedia.org, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Jony Ive, Kevin Kelly, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, social web, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, technology bubble, Thomas L Friedman

He is not shy in claiming that Apple is the only company taking big risks and accomplishing some magic in the personal computer world. He thinks he knows why. "I think back to Detroit in the seventies, when cars were so bad," he says. "Why? The people running the companies then didn't love cars. One of the things wrong with the PC industry today is that most of the people running the companies don't love PCs. Does Steve Ballmer [Microsoft] love PCs? Does Craig Barrett [Intel] love PCs? Does Michael Dell love PCs? If [Michael Dell] wasn't selling PCs he'd be selling something else. These people don't love what they create." Jobs paused for effect. "And people here do." For the record, none of those three guys has anything but good feelings about PCs. But only Apple's products look as though they were conceived out of love.

 

pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

During all this time, Jobs has reportedly received neither a salary nor a cash bonus—his entire compensation has been in Apple stock.20 It’s a compelling story, and the list of Apple’s successes is long enough that it’s hard to believe it’s all due to chance. Nevertheless, because Apple’s history can only be run once, we can’t be sure that we aren’t simply succumbing to the Halo Effect. For example, as, I discussed in Chapter 7, the iPod strategy had a number of elements that could easily have led it to fail, as did the iPhone. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer looks silly now for scoffing at the idea that consumers would pay $500 for a phone that locked consumers into a two-year contract with AT&T and didn’t have a keyboard, but it was actually quite a reasonable objection. Both products now seem like strokes of genius, but only because they succeeded. Had they instead bombed, we would not be talking about Jobs’s brilliant strategy and leadership that simply didn’t work.

 

pages: 398 words: 107,788

Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking by E. Gabriella Coleman

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Benjamin Mako Hill, crowdsourcing, Debian, dumpster diving, en.wikipedia.org, financial independence, ghettoisation, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jason Scott: textfiles.com, Jean Tirole, knowledge economy, laissez-faire capitalism, Louis Pasteur, means of production, Paul Graham, pirate software, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, slashdot, software patent, software studies, Steve Ballmer, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, web application, web of trust

Although Microsoft stated in its internal memos that it would not lead a campaign of fear, uncertainty, and doubt against open-source products, it feverishly implemented the well-worn corporate tactic of disinformation, using everything in the company’s powerful marketing arsenal to discredit the reliability of Linux. Launching a direct attack against the bulwark of F/OSS, the GPL, Microsoft representatives described this legal agreement with three of the most feared words in the United States: cancer, communism, and un-American. In 2001 during a media interview, Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, stated unabashedly, “Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches” (quoted in Greene 2001). Even amid various advertising campaigns, none of these words ever stuck. Microsoft’s early assaults against Linux only fueled an existing anti-Microsoft sentiment among developers. Yet not everyone in the trenches of the free software community was enthused by the newfound commercial popularity of open-source software.

 

pages: 292 words: 81,699

More Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky

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barriers to entry, Black Swan, Build a better mousetrap, business process, call centre, Danny Hillis, failed state, Firefox, George Gilder, low cost carrier, Mars Rover, Network effects, Paul Graham, performance metric, place-making, price discrimination, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Oldenburg, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, The Great Good Place, type inference, unpaid internship, wage slave, web application, Y Combinator

He didn’t meddle in software if he trusted the people who were working on it, but you couldn’t bullshit him for a minute because he was a programmer. A real, actual, programmer. Watching nonprogrammers trying to run software companies is like watching someone who doesn’t know how to surf trying to surf. “It’s OK! I have great advisors standing on the shore telling me what to do!” they say, and then fall off the board, again and again. The standard cry of the MBA who believes that management is a generic function. Is Steve Ballmer going to be another John Sculley, who nearly drove Apple into extinction because the board of directors thought that selling Pepsi was good preparation for running a computer company? The cult of the MBA likes to believe that you can run organizations that do things that you don’t understand. Over the years, Microsoft got big, Bill got overextended, and some shady ethical decisions made it necessary to devote way too much management attention to fighting the US government.

 

pages: 370 words: 105,085

Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky

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barriers to entry, c2.com, George Gilder, index card, Jeff Bezos, knowledge worker, Metcalfe's law, Network effects, new economy, PageRank, Paul Graham, profit motive, Robert X Cringely, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, slashdot, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, thinkpad, VA Linux, web application

By itself, an operating system is not that useful. People buy operating systems because of the useful applications that run on it. And therefore the most useful operating system is the one that has the most useful applications. The logical conclusion of this is that if you're trying to sell operating systems, the most important thing to do is make software developers want to develop software for your operating system. That's why Steve Ballmer was jumping around the stage shouting "Developers, developers, developers, developers."1 It's so important for Microsoft that the only reason they don't outright give away development tools for Windows is because they don't want to inadvertently cut off the oxygen to competitive development tools vendors (well, those that are left), because having a variety of development tools available for their platform makes it that much more attractive to developers.

 

pages: 385 words: 101,761

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire by Bruce Nussbaum

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3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, declining real wages, demographic dividend, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, follow your passion, game design, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, invisible hand, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, reshoring, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, Tesla Model S, The Chicago School, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The Myth of the Rational Market, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, tulip mania, We are the 99%, Y Combinator, young professional, Zipcar

But financial numbers alone don’t tell us anything about the “aura” of Apple, about why people so identify with its products that Jobs’s death seemed almost to be a national day of mourning, as numerous memorials appeared outside Apple stores the morning after his death was announced. As Walter Isaacson’s biography reveals, Jobs was not a nice guy or an easy person to get along with, especially if you were close to him. Yet he wanted to instill a level of aesthetic perfection in Apple products so that they would remain distinctive and never fall into the rut of “mechanical reproduction” or pure salesmanship (which is where he saw Microsoft going under Steve Ballmer’s leadership). He saw himself as a designer of things that people didn’t even know they wanted until he created them. But there’s more to Apple products than their beauty. Their common aesthetic suggests that they are connected to one another, a “family” of products. The iTunes app acts as both a commercial and a community hub, allowing music and other entertainment to be purchased with ease, and linking all the products to the ever-evolving “cloud” that represents designers’ dreams of connectivity.

 

pages: 363 words: 94,139

Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products by Leander Kahney

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Apple II, banking crisis, British Empire, Dynabook, global supply chain, interchangeable parts, Jony Ive, race to the bottom, RFID, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, the built environment, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple

“We were obviously very, very proud. We’d worked really hard. It was—there was an enormous number of people that put in personal sacrifice and it was paying off in spades. It was a beautiful day.” • • • The iPod had been regarded by a lot of pundits as Apple getting lucky, a fluke, a one-shot. When Apple entered the cutthroat cell phone market, it was predicted the iPhone would flop. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer famously said it would never get any market share. But the iPhone was a hit from the start, and Apple used its old playbook of rapidly adding features and models. Apple released the iPhone in mid-2007. By the end of the year, 3.7 million iPhones had been sold. By the first quarter of 2008, the sales volume of iPhones exceeded sales of Apple’s entire Mac line. And by the end of 2008, the company was selling three times as many iPhones per quarter as it was selling Macs.

 

pages: 362 words: 99,063

The Education of Millionaires: It's Not What You Think and It's Not Too Late by Michael Ellsberg

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affirmative action, Black Swan, Burning Man, corporate governance, financial independence, follow your passion, future of work, hiring and firing, job automation, knowledge worker, Lean Startup, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, Peter Thiel, profit motive, race to the bottom, Sand Hill Road, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Ballmer, telemarketer, Tony Hsieh

It was a lot easier for Robert to quit and find another job easily because he already had an online reputation by this point at his blog, http://scobleizer.com (now powered by—you guessed it—WordPress). “NEC hired me for the sales department, mostly because of my blog. When I went into the interview, they had a stack of my blog posts printed out right there.” From his job at NEC, Robert got invited to a “Most Valuable Professional” meeting at Microsoft of the top corporate customers. At that meeting, someone confronted CEO Steve Ballmer publicly, saying, “You need to create a better image for Microsoft.” Ballmer responded, “OK, I’ll give a dollar to anyone in this room who comes up with a good idea right here.” Robert stood up and said, “Put a more public face on the company.” He explained how, outlining what amounted to a strategy for corporate blogging—long before the concept of “corporate blogging” existed. Ballmer said, “That’s a great idea,” pulled out a dollar from his wallet, signed it, and gave it to Robert.

 

pages: 304 words: 93,494

Hatching Twitter by Nick Bilton

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4chan, Burning Man, friendly fire, index card, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, pets.com, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, social web, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technology bubble, traveling salesman, WikiLeaks

There, by the pool at Kutcher’s house, with his wife, Demi Moore, sitting close by, Kutcher had pitched them on ownership of the company. Sean “Puffy” Combs, the rapper, had also tried to negotiate an ownership deal with Ev. Each time, Ev had politely responded, telling the rich and famous, who were never told no, “No.” It happened with CEOs too. At a dinner at Bill Gates’s multimillion-dollar house in Seattle, Steve Ballmer, the chief of Microsoft, told Ev if he ever wanted to sell the company, Microsoft would be very interested. Ev politely declined Ballmer. For Ev it was never about the money or the celebrities. It always went back to Ev’s vision of building something that gave people from nowhere—like, say, Clarks, Nebraska—the same equal voice as those from somewhere. Now it was Al Gore’s turn to try to get some of the blue bird’s feathers.

 

pages: 284 words: 92,688

Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons

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Airbnb, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, call centre, cleantech, cloud computing, corporate governance, dumpster diving, fear of failure, Filter Bubble, Golden Gate Park, Google Glasses, Googley, Gordon Gekko, hiring and firing, Jeff Bezos, Lean Startup, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, minimum viable product, new economy, Paul Graham, pre–internet, quantitative easing, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rosa Parks, Sand Hill Road, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, software as a service, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, telemarketer, tulip mania, Y Combinator, éminence grise

In the past five years, from 2010 through 2014, Zynga racked up annual losses totaling more than $800 million; Groupon lost nearly $1 billion; and Twitter reported annual net losses that added up to more than $1.5 billion, according to the 10-K forms they filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Old-guard tech CEOs seem baffled by the phenomenon of companies that operate for years in the red. “They make no money! In my world you’re not a real business until you make some money,” Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, said about Amazon in 2014, a year when the company lost $241 million yet saw its market value climb to $160 billion. Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, another old-guard business guy, expressed similar astonishment about Salesforce.com. “There’s no cash flow,” he said about that company in April 2015. “What are they worth right now? $35 billion?… It’s crazy, just crazy.” That was nothing.

 

pages: 386 words: 91,913

The Elements of Power: Gadgets, Guns, and the Struggle for a Sustainable Future in the Rare Metal Age by David S. Abraham

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3D printing, carbon footprint, clean water, cleantech, Deng Xiaoping, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, glass ceiling, global supply chain, information retrieval, Internet of things, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, Tesla Model S, thinkpad, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, Y2K

I hope you will see that the ability to harness the power of rare metals to make smartphones, for example, is as impressive as the phones themselves. It’s not hyperbole to state that the fate of the planet and our ability to live a sustainable future in which technology can freely flow to the billions who do not yet have access depends on our understanding and production of rare metals and our avoidance of conflict over them. I Metals, Metals Everywhere Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was incredulous. “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance,” Ballmer prophesied during a CEO Forum before Steve Jobs released the iPhone in June 2007. But, by the end of the first week of sales, most storeroom shelves were bare; Apple and its AT&T partner sold hundreds of thousands of phones. The company was fast on its way to taking more than 20 percent of the smartphone market within just a few months.1 To those who waited in line outside Apple stores for a day or two to snap up the first phones—or paid others hundreds of dollars to wait for them—the iPhone was a revolution, the stuff of dreams.

 

pages: 525 words: 142,027

CIOs at Work by Ed Yourdon

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8-hour work day, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, distributed generation, Flash crash, Googley, Grace Hopper, Infrastructure as a Service, Innovator's Dilemma, inventory management, Julian Assange, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Nicholas Carr, rolodex, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, software as a service, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, the scientific method, WikiLeaks, Y2K, Zipcar

But what we have given them is a model to say here is how you can think about this stuff, and you can make your own judgment call based on your company profile and your regulatory environment, and so on, which bucket you will put things in. And it is leadership like that that we think is a role we can play in terms of helping develop useful models and frameworks for the industry. Yourdon: I’ve got a bunch of questions that I can’t avoid asking because I’m sure everyone will want to know—and that is the question of whether Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer hired you or promoted you into your position, or whether you have any other tidbits, you know, about them that you want to talk about. Scott: Well, I actually worked for Kevin Turner, who was our Chief Operating Officer at Microsoft, but Steve was a part of the interview process, and I’d actually worked with Bill on a number of different things even before coming to Microsoft—so it’s probably the only job where I’ve gone into the job knowing the senior executives and the company reasonably well before coming to take the job.

 

pages: 493 words: 139,845

Women Leaders at Work: Untold Tales of Women Achieving Their Ambitions by Elizabeth Ghaffari

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Albert Einstein, AltaVista, business process, cloud computing, Columbine, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, dark matter, family office, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, follow your passion, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, high net worth, knowledge worker, Long Term Capital Management, performance metric, pink-collar, profit maximization, profit motive, recommendation engine, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, thinkpad, trickle-down economics, urban planning, women in the workforce, young professional

I just thought, “Okay, if I come here and get really smart, open-minded computer scientists, mathematicians, and physicists and put them together with smart anthropologists, smart sociologists, smart economists, then maybe something interesting will happen.” So I pitched the idea, showing why I thought Microsoft needed expertise in these areas. I talked about where technology was moving and where Microsoft would want to be moving. I presented the argument about the kinds of people who were located in Cambridge who wouldn't relocate. Surprisingly, it took just a few weeks actually for Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer to say “yes” to the idea. It all happened very quickly. Ghaffari: Was the idea to set up the New England Research Center largely your initiative or Christian's, would you say? Chayes: I think this one was more my initiative. Christian was very happy. He was doing well, and we had a great team at the Theory Group. We had wonderful friends and a wonderful house. He said, “What's the matter with you?”

 

pages: 629 words: 142,393

The Future of the Internet: And How to Stop It by Jonathan Zittrain

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andy Kessler, barriers to entry, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, c2.com, call centre, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, Clayton Christensen, clean water, corporate governance, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, distributed generation, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, game design, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, illegal immigration, index card, informal economy, Internet Archive, jimmy wales, license plate recognition, loose coupling, mail merge, national security letter, packet switching, Post-materialism, post-materialism, pre–internet, price discrimination, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert X Cringely, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, software patent, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application, wikimedia commons

One manifestation of the breadth of what can be patented is the famous patent issued in 2002 for swinging sideways while on a swing. That patent was issued to a five-year-old child. See U.S. Patent No. 6,368,227 (issued Apr. 9, 2002). 70. See Posting of Adrian Kingsley-Hughes to Gear for Geeks, Ballmer: Linux “Infringes our intellectual property” http://blogs.zdnet.com/hardware/?p=154 (Nov. 17, 2006, 06:55), discussing Steve Ballmer’s assertion that Linux infringes Microsoft’s patents at the Professional Association for SQL Server conference in Seattle on November 16, 2006); Roger Parloff, Microsoft Takes on the Free World, FORTUNE, May 14, 2007, http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/fortune_archive/2007/05/28/100033867/index.htm?source=yahoo_quote; Posting of Cory Doctorow to BoingBoing, Ballmer: Linux Users Are Patent-Crooks http://www.boingboing.net/2006/11/17/ballmer_linux_users_.html (Nov. 17, 2006, 07:44).

 

pages: 470 words: 144,455

Secrets and Lies: Digital Security in a Networked World by Bruce Schneier

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Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, business process, butterfly effect, cashless society, Columbine, defense in depth, double entry bookkeeping, fault tolerance, game design, IFF: identification friend or foe, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, mutually assured destruction, pez dispenser, pirate software, profit motive, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, slashdot, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steven Levy, the payments system, Y2K, Yogi Berra

And when these pirates eventually get into a situation where they need to buy the software legitimately, they will already be hooked on my software, not my competitors’. Piracy is just another way of boosting market share. Microsoft had exactly this in mind when they made a big push to get their products translated into Chinese and distributed across that country. They knew they would be pirated; they knew that they would make less than one sale for every ten copies used. Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has been quoted as saying: “If you’re going to get pirated, you want them to pirate your stuff, not your competitors’ stuff. In developing countries, it is important to have a high share of the piracy software.” When China enters the free world, they will already be Microsoft compatible. Until then, Microsoft isn’t losing anything. It’s a perceptive business strategy. ERASING DIGITAL INFORMATION There are lots of times when we want to completely erase digital information.

 

pages: 559 words: 157,112

Dealers of Lightning by Michael A. Hiltzik

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Apple II, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, computer age, Dynabook, El Camino Real, index card, Jeff Rulifson, Joseph Schumpeter, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, oil shock, popular electronics, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the medium is the message, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

Microsoft’s thirty or so employees occupied half of the eighth floor of the Old National Bank building in Bellevue, just across Lake Washington from the city of Seattle. Carrying a portfolio of his work, Simonyi entered Suite 819 relaxed and confident, thanks to his mistaken impression that Metcalfe had already called to smooth the way. In fact, he was an unexpected visitor. Bill Gates being tied up at the moment with a delegation from a Japanese manufacturing company, Simonyi was escorted instead into the office of Steve Ballmer, a friend of Gates’s from Harvard. Unlike Gates, Ballmer had stayed at Harvard to graduate, after which he signed on to be Microsoft’s maniacal chief salesman and hyper-motivational troop leader. “I projected supreme confidence and everything,” Simonyi recalled. “I had a great portfolio and so Ballmer was incredibly impressed.” This was an understatement. After a few minutes Ballmer bounced out of his chair, exclaiming, “Bill has to see this!”

 

pages: 380 words: 118,675

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

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3D printing, airport security, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, call centre, centre right, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?

Steve Jobs was known for the clarity of his insights about what customers wanted, but he was also known for his volatility with coworkers. Apple’s founder reportedly fired employees in the elevator and screamed at underperforming executives. Perhaps there is something endemic in the fast-paced technology business that causes this behavior, because such intensity is not exactly rare among its CEOs. Bill Gates used to throw epic tantrums. Steve Ballmer, his successor at Microsoft, had a propensity for throwing chairs. Andy Grove, the longtime CEO of Intel, was known to be so harsh and intimidating that a subordinate once fainted during a performance review. Jeff Bezos fit comfortably into this mold. His manic drive and boldness trumped other conventional leadership ideals, such as building consensus and promoting civility. While he was charming and capable of great humor in public, in private, Bezos could bite an employee’s head right off.

 

pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

Trower wrote a sixty-page report calling on Microsoft to create a group that built software tools to develop robots. Microsoft gave Trower a small group of researchers and he went off to build a simulator and a graphical programming language. They named it the Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio. Then, however, Gates retired to start his foundation, and everything changed at Microsoft. The new chief executive, Steve Ballmer, had a very different focus. He was more concerned about making money and less willing to take risks. Through Microsoft veteran and chief strategy officer Craig Mundie, he sent Trower a clear message: tell me how Microsoft is going to make money on this. Ballmer was very clear: he wanted a business that generated one billion dollars in revenue annually within seven years. Microsoft had industrial robotics partners, but these partners had no interest in buying software from Microsoft—they already had their own software.

 

pages: 490 words: 117,629

Unconventional Success: A Fundamental Approach to Personal Investment by David F. Swensen

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asset allocation, asset-backed security, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, diversification, diversified portfolio, fixed income, index fund, law of one price, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, market clearing, market fundamentalism, passive investing, pez dispenser, price mechanism, profit maximization, profit motive, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, technology bubble, the market place, transaction costs, Vanguard fund, yield curve

In fact, management frequently fails to suffer at all, as corporate boards often reset option prices to reflect the newly diminished stock price. In sharp contrast to management’s loss of a mere opportunity, when share prices decrease, shareholders lose cold, hard cash. Options-based compensation schemes represent a no-lose game for management of publicly traded companies. Microsoft provides a textbook example of using option grants to insulate employees from share price declines. In April 2000, chief executive Steve Ballmer faced a problem of low morale among employees concerned about the consequences of the Justice Department’s antitrust activity and a four-month, 44 percent stock price decline. To boost spirits, Ballmer awarded more than 34,000 Microsoft employees stock options priced at the then current stock price. The chief executive wrote in an email to employees that “we know stock options are an important part of our compensation.”

 

pages: 527 words: 147,690

Terms of Service: Social Media and the Price of Constant Connection by Jacob Silverman

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23andMe, 4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Airbnb, airport security, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, Brian Krebs, California gold rush, call centre, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, don't be evil, Edward Snowden, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Flash crash, game design, global village, Google Chrome, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, late capitalism, license plate recognition, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, Marshall McLuhan, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Minecraft, move fast and break things, national security letter, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, payday loans, Peter Thiel, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, pre–internet, price discrimination, price stability, profit motive, quantitative hedge fund, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, rent control, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Snapchat, social graph, social web, sorting algorithm, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, technoutopianism, telemarketer, transportation-network company, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, universal basic income, unpaid internship, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zipcar

In a meeting with the W3C, the international consortium that helps devise standards for the Web, a vice president of the Direct Marketing Association reportedly “proposed that Do Not Track signals should actually permit data collection for advertising purposes, the very thing the mechanisms were designed to control.” The Association of National Advertisers then published an open letter to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, criticizing his company for automatically enabling Do Not Track on its Internet Explorer 10 browser (which at the time hadn’t even yet been released). Even the most cursory privacy measures, it seemed, would be vigorously contested. But the effort was doomed from the beginning. The Privacy Bill of Rights called for corporations to sign up voluntarily, with enforcement entrusted to the congenitally toothless FTC.

 

The Future of Technology by Tom Standage

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air freight, barriers to entry, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, Clayton Christensen, computer vision, connected car, corporate governance, disintermediation, distributed generation, double helix, experimental economics, full employment, hydrogen economy, industrial robot, informal economy, interchangeable parts, job satisfaction, labour market flexibility, market design, Menlo Park, millennium bug, moral hazard, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, railway mania, rent-seeking, RFID, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart grid, software as a service, spectrum auction, speech recognition, stem cell, Steve Ballmer, technology bubble, telemarketer, transcontinental railway, Y2K

Mr Lane, for instance, not only believes in the mom test but also has a “sister theory” to explain market inertia. This is mainly because he has a sister who spent a long career as an executive with an American airline, where she “fought every technological change over 30 years, even though she couldn’t say why”. Mom, however, is invoked most – if not necessarily heeded. According to an industry legend, Steve Ballmer, now the boss of Microsoft, conducted a mom test before the launch of Windows 95, using his own mother as the guinea pig. When she had finished trying it out, Ms Ballmer asked, “How do I turn it off?” Her son, somewhat irked, pointed to the start button. “You go to the start button to stop?” asked his mother, quite perplexed. But today, several versions of Windows later, that is still how it is done.

 

pages: 468 words: 233,091

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

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8-hour work day, affirmative action, AltaVista, Apple II, Brewster Kahle, business process, Byte Shop, Danny Hillis, don't be evil, fear of failure, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, game design, Googley, HyperCard, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, nuclear winter, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, software patent, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, web application, Y Combinator

We talked to a headhunting firm, and the guy was candid with me and said, “Look, we can’t recruit a COO for you because anybody who is capable of doing that job for a company at your level would demand to be the CEO.” And I thought, “That’s kind of crazy. How could they be the CEO? They don’t know the business or the customers. How could we just plunk them down?” In retrospect, that was pretty good thinking; look at Microsoft: it took them 20 years to hand off from Bill Gates to Steve Ballmer. He needed 20 years of training to take that job. Jack Welch was at GE for 20 years before he became CEO. Sometimes it does work, but I think for these fragile little companies, just putting a generic manager at the top is oftentimes disastrous. There was no way we could have hired first-rank businesspeople in that environment. There were too many companies that were low-risk and had more assets that were hiring the best people.

 

pages: 1,336 words: 415,037

The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life by Alice Schroeder

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affirmative action, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Bonfire of the Vanities, Brownian motion, capital asset pricing model, card file, centralized clearinghouse, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, desegregation, Donald Trump, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Honoré de Balzac, If something cannot go on forever, it will stop, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, index fund, indoor plumbing, interest rate swap, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Bachelier, margin call, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, medical malpractice, merger arbitrage, Mikhail Gorbachev, moral hazard, NetJets, new economy, New Journalism, North Sea oil, paper trading, passive investing, pets.com, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Ralph Nader, random walk, Ronald Reagan, Scientific racism, shareholder value, short selling, side project, Silicon Valley, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, supply-chain management, telemarketer, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, War on Poverty, Works Progress Administration, Y2K, zero-coupon bond

The naked mole rat was a superior beast, not only insensitive to pain but parthenogenic: The queen of the colony fertilizes and gives birth without assistance from the males. Munger and Myhrvold held an animated conversation about the sex life of mole rats while the others sat listening in numb disbelief.6 The next morning, Gates took Buffett and Munger over to Microsoft so that his number two, Steve Ballmer, and half a dozen engineers could interview them, almost as anthropologists, so strange did it seem to them that these two incredibly brilliant men were such latecomers to the world of computers. They were like a couple of cavemen savants discovered in the bush who had seen an airplane but wouldn’t take a ride. Despite his sense of the Internet’s importance, for example, it had not yet occurred to Buffett to tell GEICO to hurry up and exploit the Internet to sell insurance.