Ballmer disses old Microsoft employees at D conference

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Carslbad (CA) - Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer sure knows how to motivate his older employees.  Speaking at the D: All Things Digital Conference in Carlsbad California, Ballmer said that his company is much more agile than it was in the old days. He told the audience that Microsoft had a lot of dead weight in the early years.  He also talked about Microsoft’s constant catch up game with Google in the search engine market.

In historical terms Microsoft hasn’t been around for a long time.  Founded a little more than 30 years ago, the company now has around 78,000 employees.  Despite having so many workers, Ballmer firmly believes that Microsoft can innovate from the bottom up and pointed to the Silverlight cross-platform multimedia player.

But while Ballmer praised Microsoft’s current batch of workers, he took a swing at older and former employees.  “People we had then weren’t as good (as Bill Gates and Paul Allen) and they are gone,” said Ballmer.

Ballmer acknowledged Google’s dominance in the search market, but couldn’t convince himself to say “Google” and saying instead “the market leader”.  He said that Google had momentum, but says that Microsoft could catch up in improving the user experience and interface of search engines.

The D conference is hosted by the Wall Street Journal and Walt Mossberg.  The conference is often compared to the DEMO show held in the fall where companies pay to present new products.  In contrast, high tech executives are invited to D to show off their latest wares for free – as long as they submit to the grilling of Mr. Mossberg.