Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
News
2/7/2014
11:26 AM
Connect Directly
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft CEOs' Wackiest Quotes: Who Said That?

Satya Nadella has the brains and experience to become Microsoft's CEO -- but does he have the sharp tongue of Gates or Ballmer? Match these Microsoft CEO quotes to their outspoken owners.

Microsoft In 2013: 7 Lessons Learned
Microsoft In 2013: 7 Lessons Learned
(Click image for larger view and for slideshow.)

Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella has some big shoes to fill. He faces great expectations when it comes to innovation and profit, his predecessors set the bar very high, yada yada yada... But that's not what I'm talking about.

Microsoft's new leader will play follow-up to two of the most prolifically quotable CEOs in history. Nadella, displaying a fondness for cricket, a formidable intellect, and a borderline-hipster wardrobe, is already carving out an identity. But he has nothing on the cult of personality that formed around Gates. When a satirical website claimed the Microsoft founder told a reporter, "I give you a million bucks, and I get to sever your arm right here," and "Let's face it, the average computer user has the brain of a spider monkey," many perceived the statements as fact -- in fact, some wounded PC users were still lamenting the faux comments years later.

[Will Satya Nadella and Bill Gates click? Read Nadella, Gates: Right Team for Microsoft?]

Nadella's public persona can't compare to Ballmer's, either -- at least not until the new boss has had a chance, as Ballmer did on several occasions, to spit on an Apple product that subsequently goes on to redefine the industry. No, in terms of headline-grabbing outlandishness, Nadella is still a rookie among wizards.

Need a refresher on Gates's and Ballmer's most outrageous and insightful statements? Take our quiz, which features 12 zingers from not only Microsoft's first two CEOs, but also Nadella, who's already offered a few noteworthy statements as he's risen through the ranks. The answers are on the next page (no peeking.)

When you're done, use the comments section to write in your vote for the wackiest tech CEO quote of all time. It might be one of these -- or one from an even more colorful character. We will report back on the write-in winner. Do bring your sense of humor; just keep it safe for work.

Now put your Microsoft cred on the line. Which Microsoft CEO said:

1. "Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

2. "Our industry does not respect tradition -- it only respects innovation."

3. "Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches. That's the way that the license works."

4. "You might hear me say 'That's the dumbest idea I have ever heard' many times during a meeting."

5. "I'm going to f**king bury that guy. I have done it before, and I will do it again."

6. "About three million computers get sold every year in China, but people don't pay for the software. Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade."

7. "Legacy is a stupid thing! I don't want a legacy."

8. "They yell at you, they'll scream at you, they'll sort of say you're crazy and you're destroying this place. And all the melodrama aside, you come back at it with the data, with the -- with your own conviction, because a lot of that stuff is all to test whether you know what you're talking about."

9. "What is it about sarcasm in a meeting? Or just going, 'This is completely screwed up'?"

10. "There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance. It's a $500 subsidized item."

11. "All in, baby... We are winning, winning, winning, winning, winning."

12. "Now people are saying, 'Hey, where did you come from? You guys were getting your ass kicked by VMware.' "

Wow! (We resisted any mention of cream pies or developer dances.) See page 2 for the answers...

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

Previous
1 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
2/14/2014 | 2:52:23 AM
Re: I've always liked this one
jgherbert, 

When did the smiley start to be used? :/  I never use the winking smiley because it never seems to fit anything I say. As you say, what does it suppose to suggest? :/ 

However, as you see, I am very fond of using some others. :D Although I agree with you that it's quite annoying to receive a "J" on a Mac when the smiley comes from a PC. That's not the only incompatible thing between the two systems, anyway. ◔_◔ 

A smiley also expresses people's opinion. They are fun and can set a good mood in the conversation. :) 

-Susan 

 
jgherbert
50%
50%
jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
2/13/2014 | 12:14:23 PM
Re: I've always liked this one
Interesting (perhaps) side note is that when the smiley was first starting to be used, it more often than not implied sarcasm, not happiness or friendliness. That has changed over time, but I still hesitate lest it be misunderstood. How about a winking smiley - what does that suggest? And I'm not a huge fan of graphical emoticons because they don't tend to work across multiple systems consistently - see what happens when you receive a Windows smiley in an email on your iPhone, for example.

Anyway, to me the point of having the additional 'votes' is that you get a tally of people's opinions summarized right by the post itself, just like we do with likes and comments right now. Perfect for today's TL;DR world in fact :-)
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
2/12/2014 | 11:33:16 AM
Re: I've always liked this one
jgherbert, 

"Why stop at like / dislike though? Some forums allow you to rate using a bit more opinion, like "Funny" or "Sad". I actually quite like that."

What about using smileys instead? I prefer smileys. :D 

"And sometimes 'dislike' represents your agreement that you dislike something that happened to somebody (for example)." 

Yes, I see your point. The sad smiley is used in that case. It's also more expressive than a simple Dislike button, don't you think? :) 

-Susan
jgherbert
50%
50%
jgherbert,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 5:04:48 PM
Re: I've always liked this one
Why stop at like / dislike though? Some forums allow you to rate using a bit more opinion, like "Funny" or "Sad". I actually quite like that. And sometimes 'dislike' represents your agreement that you dislike something that happened to somebody (for example). Usually I hear people asking for it in that context, not in the sense that I don't like what you just said. Maybe I just hang out with awesome people on Facebook?
Susan Fourtané
50%
50%
Susan Fourtané,
User Rank: Ninja
2/11/2014 | 7:40:54 AM
Re: I've always liked this one
Thomas, 

""A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa." -- Mark Zuckerberg, early in his journey to figuring out how to be a public figure"

Maybe what Mark Zuckerberg meant to say was that logically what happens in your house is always more relevant than what happens in the neighbor's garden.

Or, at least this is how it should be and there is nothing wrong about this.

The proximity of the problem affects you more than the magnitude of it. 

I believe the Like button's function is to highlight positive feedback, positive opinion. No one in this world needs more negativity online. More than half of the daily news is just enough of that. 

-Susan 

 
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 5:04:06 PM
Re: T-shirt, anyone?
"Imagine a world where every online store sells DRM-free music encoded in open licensable formats. In such a world, any player can play music purchased from any store, and any store can sell music which is playable on all players. This is clearly the best alternative for consumers, and Apple would embrace it in a heartbeat."

-Steve Jobs, 2007

Yet Apple has not embraced DRM-free text (ebooks) encoded in open licensable formats.
Thomas Claburn
50%
50%
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 4:59:08 PM
Re: I've always liked this one
>"A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa." -- Mark Zuckerberg, early in his journey to figuring out how to be a public figure

 

This explains why we have a Like button but no Dislike button. Advertising only works when the backdrop is banal.
sdouty
50%
50%
sdouty,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/7/2014 | 7:51:27 PM
Gates quote
A variant on #4 - I've heard Bill say it many times but it was usually, "That's the dumbest idea I have ever heard, IN MY LIFE!!"  Maybe he added the postscript after 1994.

When Bill says it, it's criticism. When Steve says it, you're probably gone within a couple of weeks.
Charlie Babcock
50%
50%
Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
2/7/2014 | 6:17:46 PM
Microsoft and free software
Bill Gates on the Chinese: "As long as they're going to steal it, we want them to steal ours." This is as close as Microsoft ever got to endorsing free software concepts.
danielcawrey
50%
50%
danielcawrey,
User Rank: Ninja
2/7/2014 | 4:32:42 PM
Re: Eric Schmidt was the king of creepy quotes
Nadella seems like an interesting guy, a major departure from Ballmer.

I don't know that much about Nadella, but I think Microsoft needs to change badly. They realize this, as they are bleeding cash in some areas.

The Server & Tools business unit has done well. But that cannot be an expectation going forward.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
The Business of Going Digital
The Business of Going Digital
Digital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest September 24, 2014
Start improving branch office support by tapping public and private cloud resources to boost performance, increase worker productivity, and cut costs.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.