CEO Confident Microsoft Will Survive Economic Woes

Dennis Faas's picture

Although it has recently faced a barrage of criticism over a failed attempt to use hit 90s comedian Jerry Seinfeld to sell its troubled Vista operating system, the greatest threat facing Microsoft -- and the entire tech industry -- may be the American economy. Not so, says company CEO Steve Ballmer.

In a talk last week in sunny Santa Clara, Ballmer emphatically proclaimed that the technology industry is capable of resisting a spiraling U.S. economy. Why? Because, as we all know, the tech industry is much bigger than just the United States. Although the American economy's trouble is in part due to global competition, Ballmer argues that tech's globe-trotting nature means it can survive a crisis stateside.

"As I travel and talk to people in the industry, I would say given the current circumstances, people still see a certain buoyancy in the market," Ballmer said. (Source:

Speaking at the Churchill Club's annual dinner, Ballmer seemed very confident in the future of both Microsoft and technology market -- even as Wall Street faces a $700 billion bailout.

To Ballmer, the companies that survive will be those that adapt: "You don't brute force your way into any market," he said. "You only make major strides when you play the game of redefining the category, redefining the business model."

So confident was Ballmer that he classified the looming crisis as one filled with "opportunity".

There's every reason in the world for Microsoft to remain confident. Despite troubles in the media over the Seinfeld debacle and Wall Street's impending doom, analysts expect Ballmer's company to generate an 8 per cent rise in revenue during its first fiscal quarter ending this week. (Source:

Then again, maybe Ballmer's just watching CNBC's financial coverage through rose-colored glasses.  They were surely on as he watched company founder Bill Gates' spots in the Seinfeld ads: when Churchill Club dinner host Ann Winblad briefly mentioned the former chairman's acting talents, Ballmer excitedly cut in, "He's hot baby! He's hot!"

It may take some time for us to discover if Ballmer's interpretation of the American economy is as skewed as his taste in television commercials.

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