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CEO: Google Is Like Your Ex – Cute, But Insane

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Well, he didn’t put it exactly like that, but Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer didn’t pull any punches in regard to Google during an appearance in front of 450 Stanford University business and engineering students yesterday. In addition to calling Google’s employee growth-rate "insane," and its non-search products "cute," Ballmer implied Google was a one-trick pony.

(And we’ll have some class and not mention the shellacking Stanford took in the NCAA tournament by Louisville. Oops, guess we just kind of did.)

According to Microsoft’s PR department, Ballmer "sprinkled his advice throughout the hour-long gathering" – you know, like pixie-dust or holy water.

The boisterous Microsoft executive said the company had just completed its "best recruiting year ever" after moderator Robert Joss, dean of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, inquired about the software company’s competition with Google for talent.

"[Y]ou could say just as Windows deserved a competitor, and we got one in Linux, so did Microsoft for talent deserve a competitor, and we’ve got one at least sort of showcase competitor for talent. That’s ok. It’s kind of like Linux; people said it would wipe us out.

"Did it wipe us out? No. In fact, our market shares today are stronger than they were three or four years ago."

But Google’s growing at a pace that Ballmer seems to find troubling. Though Microsoft grew from 24 employees to 75,000, he notes that it took 27 years to do so.

"I think with [Google], they’re trying to double in a year," he said. "I think that’s insane, in my opinion."

Ballmer indicated that the burden of proof that sudden bursts of growth like Google’s can work is still on Google itself. Google’s model of autonomy and the 20 percent of time devoted to pet projects by engineers is still unproven.

"I don’t really know that anybody has proven that a random collection of people doing their own thing actually creates value…Google built one very good business, okay, but they only have one thing that they do. Everything else is sort of cute…"

Former Microsoft employee, Robert Scoble, who has a history of criticizing Ballmer even when employed at Microsoft, blogged soon after Ballmer quotes started making the rounds. Scoble thinks Ballmer is underestimating Google.

Addressing Ballmer personally, Scoble writes:

You’re up against a formidable competitor and one you’ve never seen before that has some real, significant weapons that you can’t deal with…
 
Google’s secret weapon? It controls the entire stack in the datacenter. Google writes its own hard disk drivers. It has its datacenter hardware built to its spec. Ever wonder why Live.com is slower than Google? Hint: it’s cause Google is out executing Microsoft in the datacenter.

This isn’t Netscape you’re talking trash to, Steve.

 

 

CEO: Google Is Like Your Ex – Cute, But Insane
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