You can be on Entrepreneur’s cover!

Ballmer Reminisces, Advises in First Appearance Since Exiting Microsoft Here are five of the most interesting things that former Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer said during his appearance yesterday at Oxford University's Saïd Business School.

By Geoff Weiss

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Microsoft Sweden
Steve Ballmer

In his first public appearance since handing over Microsoft's reins to incumbent CEO Satya Nadella, MBA dropout Steve Ballmer spoke to a packed house yesterday at Oxford University's Saïd Business School.

Enthusiastic as ever, the exec chugged Diet Coke, bellowed cheerfully until he was red in the face and frequently bounded out of his seat for emphasis.

He looked unflinchingly back upon his 14 years as Microsoft's leader, discussing what he might have done differently while propounding career advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Here are five of the most interesting things that he said:

Related: The 7 Most Fascinating Things Bill Gates Said in His Reddit Chat

1. He was a shy kid. It may seem unfathomable that the executive notorious for erupting into WWE-style hysterics during press events might describe himself his "painfully shy," but Ballmer says that, until college, that was largely the case.

It wasn't until he took on the role as team manager for Harvard's football team that he learned to deal with unfriendly team members in order to pump up morale and coordinate a packed schedule. Now, Ballmer describes his leadership style as involving, energetic and passionate: "I am a salesman by nature. Don't just come on the voyage with me -- believe!"

2. He doesn't want to be "cool." While Apple may have cornered the market on "cool," Ballmer said -- throwing up air quotes -- he envisions the Microsoft brand as more democratic, namely a proponent of "affordable, empowering technology for all."

Related: Microsoft's Safe Bet: Nadella Named CEO, Gates Appointed Tech Advisor

In this vein, Ballmer said that the brands Microsoft could most hope to emulate are long-lasting and leading-edge educational institutions such as Oxford and Harvard.

3. He'll catch the next wave. Despite admittedly missing the ball on mobile opportunities, for instance, Ballmer says that Microsoft is well-capitalized enough to continue with current initiatives and reposition itself for future waves of innovation.

"Take the world 10 years from now," he said. "Do you really think we're going to use devices that look like any of the devices that we have today?" Ballmer also regrets not having sooner married the hardware and software components of Microsoft's business.

Related: Microsoft Acquires Nokia's Device Business in Mega Deal

4. He questions Facebook's WhatsApp acquisition. "Is it a fad? Well, probably not," Ballmer said of WhatsApp, which Facebook purchased last month for a cool $19 billion. But that doesn't necessarily mean that any asset boasting 450 million users could -- or should -- fetch a comparable price, he said.

Ballmer, who is no stranger to pricey acquisitions himself -- Microsoft's own $7.2 billion purchase of Nokia will be finalized in coming weeks -- said he ultimately doesn't know if the WhatsApp deal will prove to be successful or not.

5. He still loves Microsoft. Ballmer has three children with his wife, Connie, and considers Microsoft his fourth.

In the same way that a father rears his brood, Ballmer says, "If there's something I don't like about Microsoft, I should've changed it -- I could've changed it." Ballmer, who is still a board member and owns four percent of the company, insists that it will bring him boundless pride to see Microsoft continue to flourish even after having parted ways.

Related: Box CEO Aaron Levie: Microsoft Doesn't Have the DNA to Keep Up

Geoff Weiss

Former Staff Writer

Geoff Weiss is a former staff writer at Entrepreneur.com.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

This Fan-Favorite Masters 2024 Item Is Still $1.50 as Tournament Menu Appears Unscathed by Inflation

The pimento cheese sandwich is a tradition almost as big as the tournament itself.

Business Solutions

Save an Extra 20% on the Ultimate Microsoft Bundle Featuring Windows 11 Pro, Office, and More

Pick up this package of popular Microsoft products for only a fraction of the price through April 16.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business Solutions

Visualize Data for Better Business: MS Visio is $23.99 Through April 16

Set your team up for success with a reliable tool for creating organizational charts, diagrams, and more.

Business Solutions

Scan Easier and More Affordably with This 20% Discount

iScanner is a mobile app that makes document management, editing, and sharing easier.

Business News

I Designed My Dream Home For Free With an AI Architect — Here's How It Works

The AI architect, Vitruvius, created three designs in minutes, complete with floor plans and pictures of the inside and outside of the house.