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Ballmer Criticizes Nadella at Shareholder Meeting

Nearly two years after Microsoft's former CEO Steve Ballmer left the company, he publicly rebuked his successor Satya Nadella for not adequately disclosing cloud revenues. The open critique took place at the company's shareholder meeting Wednesday.

While taking on Nadella might sound like sour grapes, Ballmer has a lot of skin in the game as he's Microsoft's largest individual shareholder. As reported by Dina Bass of Bloomberg, Ballmer takes issue with the fact that Microsoft only reports run rates calling that "bulls---," saying Microsoft should report actual revenues and margins.

"It's sort of a key metric -- if they talk about it as key to the company, they should report it," Ballmer reportedly said at the meeting, held in Bellevue, Wash. "They should report the revenue, not the run rate,"

In discussing the issue with Microsoft, Ballmer said he couldn't even guess what the actual figures are, according to the report. Chris Suh, Microsoft's general manager for investor relations told Bloomberg: "We enjoy a regular dialogue with Steve, and welcome his input and feedback, as we do from our other investors.

Ballmer also interrupted Nadella when he defended Microsoft's focus on allowing developers to write apps to devices of all sizes with the company's new Universal Apps platform, suggesting the company should give priority to enabling Android and iOS apps to run on Windows. The comment implicitly was criticizing reports that Microsoft has put on hold indefinitely Project Astoria, the effort announced at the Build conference back in April to make it easier for Android developers to port their apps to Windows 10 mobile.

If indeed Project Astoria is on hold, it possibly means Nadella threw a Hail Mary bet on the success of Windows 10's "Continuum" technology, which switches the Windows 10 phone  interface to work on PCs. However, Android users will have less of an incentive to use Windows Phones in the first place if Project Astoria is on hold.

As for Microsoft's reporting of cloud revenues, the company will have a hard time convincing skeptics that its cloud transition is meeting expectations unless it provides more than just annual run rates.


Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 12/03/2015 at 12:22 PM


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