| SEATTLE, Sept 26
SEATTLE, Sept 26 Microsoft Corp Chief
Executive Steve Ballmer took his farewell bow before thousands
of applauding employees on Thursday with a typically loud and
emotional performance at his last companywide meeting, talking
up the software giant's prospects and taking swipes at rivals.
The CEO, whose screeching and dancing at company events is
the stuff of YouTube legend, stormed the stage to "Can't Hold
Us" by Seattle rap/producer duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, and
kept up his usual high tempo, according to several people
present at the employee-only meeting.
He departed to the strains of Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be
Startin' Somethin'," the song played at Microsoft's first
employee meeting in 1983, followed by "(I've Had) The Time of My
Life" from the finale of "Dirty Dancing," getting a standing
ovation from the 13,000 or so Microsoft full-time employees in
"We have unbelievable potential in front of us, we have an
unbelievable destiny," said a visibly moved Ballmer, reusing a
quote from the 1983 meeting. "Only our company and a handful of
others are poised to write the future," he continued. "We're
going to think big, we're going to bet big."
Ballmer, who announced his plan to retire within 12 months
in August, was the last act of the all-day event at Seattle's
KeyArena, former home of the city's SuperSonics basketball team.
Thousands of full-time Microsoft employees showed up, most
of them bussed in from Microsoft's campus on the east side of
Lake Washington - while an estimated 25,000 more tuned in via
The event is an annual traffic nightmare for Seattle, with
220 buses making the 15-mile journey from Microsoft's campus in
Redmond to the center of the city.
During his time on stage, Ballmer talked about telling his
parents about deciding to drop out of Stanford's business school
to join Microsoft on 1980, recalling that his father - a
long-time Ford Motor Co executive - asked him what a
personal computer was.
He dwelled on his new plan to transform the company from a
software-centric operation into a more innovative devices and
services company, which he said would make it "fundamentally
He also took a swipe at rivals, declaring that Apple
is about being "fashionable," Amazon.com is
about being "cheap," Google is about "knowing more,"
but Microsoft is about "doing more."
Microsoft has a bright future, Ballmer said, echoing his
theme from last week's meeting with Wall Street analysts.
"I believe in you, I believe in the mission," he told
employees, choking up slightly. "We've been a great company for
years. We will be a great company for many more years."