March 6, 2008 / 11:16 PM / 9 years ago

Microsoft CEO says catching Google is goal

<p>Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer addresses a news conference in the northern German town of Hanover March 3, 2008. Ballmer pledged on Thursday he will gain share against Google in online advertising and Web searching even if it is in his "last breath" at the company.Christian Charisius</p>

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) Chief Executive Steve Ballmer pledged on Thursday he will gain share against Google Inc (GOOG.O) in online advertising and Web searching even if it is in his "last breath" at the company.

Speaking at Microsoft's MIX08 online technology conference in Las Vegas, Ballmer reiterated the justifications for the software company's $41.2 billion unsolicited offer for Yahoo Inc YHOO.O, saying the deal would accelerate its efforts to build a competitor to Google.

"So it may be my last breath at Microsoft, but we're going to be there, working away, building share," said Ballmer during a jovial question-and-answer session with Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist and one of the first employees at Apple Inc (AAPL.O).

"In online, yeah, it's Google, Google, Google and we're in the game. We're just the little engine that could."

Ballmer did not provide an update about its offer for Yahoo. Microsoft has offered to buy Yahoo for $31 a share in cash and stock, which Yahoo's board rejected, saying it undervalued the company.

"We've made an offer and it's out there baby," said Ballmer. The deal was originally worth $44.6 billion, but Microsoft's stock slide has pushed down the deal's value.

The Microsoft CEO said the two companies, if a deal should go through, will look to reduce areas of overlap.

"We shouldn't have two of everything. It won't make sense to have two search services, two advertising services, two mail services and we will have to sort some of that through," said Ballmer in the session, which touched on a wide range of subjects.

Reporting by Daisuke Wakabayashi, editing by Peter Henderson and Tim Dobbyn

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