Ballmer: The Benefits of Bigness

Steve Ballmer: Photo of Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft

Needless to say, Steve Ballmer, president and chief executive of Microsoft Corp., doesn’t agree with the column I wrote last Sunday, in which I called for a breakup of Microsoft. Over dinner last night, he defended the company and its tactics, saying it would prevail in court in the long run.

And he offered what he clearly believed was a one more compelling reason not to do anything so drastic as a breakup. Simply put, we — the technology users of the world — need Microsoft, because it takes a company of this size and talent and direction to solve some kinds of problems and invent some kinds of products.

He also asked me (it’s a bit weird to be interviewed by Steve Ballmer) why I came to the conclusions I did. Because, I said, I think there would be more innovation, not less, if Microsoft were split into several pieces — and because I thought a breakup was the least bad choice under the circumstances.

We agreed, as always, to disagree.

I’ll have more on this in a special column, coming up later today. Meanwhile, I’m catching a plane back to California.

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