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Microsoft's Steve Ballmer: Checkbook Open for Acquisitions

Posted by: Rob Hof on October 18, 2007

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the first speaker at the Web 2.0 Summit today, said the software giant’s checkbook is still open for buying about 20 companies a year, between $50 million and $1 billion a shot. That would seem to eliminate the usual recent suspects associated with Microsoft, such as Yahoo! and Facebook.

But Ballmer was coy when cohost John Battelle asked if Microsoft was “involved” with Facebook’s financing, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg basically confirmed yesterday. “We have a great partnership on ads,” Ballmer replied. “We’ll see where it all takes us.” He also said that while Facebook has done a “really nice job” on its applications platform, “I don’t look at it as a threat.” Then a Microsoft colleague proceeded to demo Microsoft’s Popfly, a way to create applications without programming—even applications on Facebook. Popfly goes into public beta today.

Ballmer also declined to say whether Microsoft, as rumored widely, is losing money on its Facebook ad deal. “The most important thing is, we’re learning more every day.” No doubt.

And Yahoo? Ballmer wouldn’t comment on whether Microsoft, repeatedly mentioned as a suitor, would pull that trigger. But he added, “We believe in our independent path.”

Battelle asked if Microsoft needs to whack its search kids upside the head to do a better job vs. Google. Here, Ballmer showed his trademark excitability. He said the “kids” are only three years old, doing a great job, and “You’re gonna dunk the other guy someday, Johnny!”

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Reader Comments

Sam Miller

October 18, 2007 07:45 PM

Not clear why Microsoft would purchase Facebook. They have yet to prove that there is a viable business model in community based websites. LinkedIn is also struggling. Microsoft can afford to make the same mistake as Ebay did when it purchased Skype. And I am sure they can afford it.

But is that what is going to get them to outcompete Google.

Sam Miller
Walker's Research - A quality source for business information

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BusinessWeek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, Douglas MacMillan, and Spencer Ante dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. One of the first mainstream media tech blogs, Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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