It’s a moment business historians are sure to drag out of the digital closet when they write books on what the IT world was like in the early 21st Century.
A burly figure prances manically back and forth across a stage, raging, ranting, generating enough fury to levitate himself off the floor at several points. “I LOVE THIS COMPANY!” booms the figure, gathering his breath.
This is the infamous “monkey boy” sequence. The fact that the monkey boy in question is Steve Ballmer, the CEO of the world’s most powerful IT company is merely incidental. You’re allowed to pull the sort of deranged behaviour in IT because IT is still somehow different from other industries despite all the guff talked about how it grew up years ago.
If a CEO in any other company or industry tried the same thing at a public meeting, someone would have called for a lunatic van in under one minute.
It’s safe to say that new Chairman Ray Ozzie, appointed to replace Bill Gates in the role of “chief software architect”, won’t be copying the madman-savant stunt at the next sales get-together.
So which Microsoft is it to be? The ranting one of Ballmer, which gave everyone a smile but convinced plenty of others that Microsoft is run by an eccentric egomaniac? Or the more measured, intellectual and perhaps "connected" one that might emerge from the mind of Ray Ozzie?
With the great founder shuffling away to other things, it’s a pertinent question. Whose word decides – to borrow the marketing ticker once used for Windows 95 - where the world’s most significant technology company goes today?
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