Bad Boy Ballmer: The Man Who Rules Microsoft

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9780066210148: Bad Boy Ballmer: The Man Who Rules Microsoft

In January 2000 Bill Gates gave his responsibilities and the title chief executive officer of Microsoft to his best friend, Steve Ballmer, who had been at Gates's side almost since the company's earliest days. The news sent shock waves throughout the technology and computer worlds, making many people wonder about the man who was now entrusted with Bill Gates's baby.

The life of Steve Ballmer is an incredible story of tremendous ambition, genius, arrogance, and charisma, an up-by-the-bootstraps saga of how the child of immigrants growing up in suburban Michigan became the only American billionaire to acquire his wealth working for someone else. Bad Boy Ballmer also reveals a man so arrogant that after the Department of Justice filed its antitrust suit against Microsoft, Ballmer stood onstage in San Jose and proclaimed "to hell with Janet Reno," a man so intense and aggressive that he once ripped his vocal cords by yelling too loudly.

In this revealing biography -- based on in-depth study and interviews with Microsoft insiders -- Fredric Alan Maxwell provides the complete, controversial narrative of one of the technology industry's most influential, talked-about figures: Steven Anthony Ballmer, the awkward Detroit Country Day School valedictorian who rose to become Microsoft's president, and in the past two years, its CEO. Together with Bill Gates, Ballmer leads the company he and Gates took from less than 30 employees to some 50,000, and annual revenues from $12 million to more than $20 billion and rising. A balanced portrait, this book reveals the good boy Ballmer -- the dedicated son who once took three months off to care for his ailing parents, and the bad boy Ballmer -- the ruthless businessman who at the same time devised and led a scorched earth policy against other software developers, a policy that earned him the nickname "The Em-balmer."

Bad Boy Ballmer is also the definitive story of the Bill Gates/Steve Ballmer relationship, from their 1974 meeting at a Harvard dorm to the present. Providing fresh insights into the longstanding bond between this odd couple, who describe their relationship as a marriage, the book will show how Ballmer and Gates work together to form Microsoft's ego and id. Or, as former competitor, Novell's Ray Noorda calls them, "the Pearly Gates and the Emballmer: one promises you heaven, the other prepares you for the grave." One half of the new economy's most powerful partnership, Ballmer's greatest accomplishment, Bad Boy Ballmer shows, may be putting up with Gates for over two decades.

Eye-opening and thorough, Bad Boy Ballmer is a shocking look at one of the masterminds of the technological age.

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About the Author:

Fredric Alan Maxwell is a journalist and researcher who has written for Newsweek, The New Yorker, Harper's and Regardies. He lives in Seattle, Washington.

From Publishers Weekly:

Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen may be the most well-known rulers of the huge computer empire, but this latest offering attempts to show that the company's current CEO, the colorful and bombastic Steve Ballmer, an early Microsoft employee and friend of Gates's from their days at Harvard, is in fact the company's muscle. Unfortunately, this "biography" is little more than a re-hashing of Microsoft's already well-documented ruthless business practices, staggering financial success and endless legal travails. Seattle-based writer and researcher Maxwell, once profiled in the New Yorker for his research skills, does succeed in assembling an array of secondary sources into a concise edition of the Microsoft saga. But as a biography of Ballmer, the book falls woefully short. Readers learn that Ballmer was born in an affluent Detroit suburb, is of Jewish heritage, was a classic overachiever who worked his way into Harvard, dropped out of Stanford Business School and was briefly employed as a brand manager for Procter & Gamble. But beyond a few examples of Ballmer's frighteningly enthusiastic style he once ripped his vocal chords while giving a particularly forceful speech there's very little about Ballmer's true impact on Microsoft, or of Microsoft's impact on Ballmer. In his introduction, Maxwell gushes that Ballmer's is the "incredible story of tremendous ambition, genius, and charisma, of intense drive and merit, of insatiable greed and blatant arrogance." But there is in fact so little Ballmer and so much Microsoft in this book, it is a stretch to call this effort a biography.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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