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Steve Ballmer's Need To Be Relevant

by: Mark Reschke | Aug 20, 2014
Categories: Competition

Steve_ballmer_clippersWe just can not get rid of this guy. Like a nagging winter cough, a bad back or rheumatoid arthritis, Steve Ballmer’s need to be relevant seems insatiable. With his recent overpaid L.A. Clippers acquisition, it sadly appears he will be in our consciousness for some time to come. 

Yesterday, at the Clippers Fan Festival, Steve Ballmer brought out his nearly trademark maniac appearance. Going quasi-crazy on the fans, followed up with a 13 minute speech that did not excite anyone, but probably scared many. Some say Ballmer is simply an extremely passionate guy in whatever he gets into. That’s one apologetic opinion. The other is Ballmer simply cannot get over himself, and since his rise and reign at Microsoft is over, he needs the spotlight now more than ever.

Overpaying for a franchise by nearly $1 billion reveals how desperate this man is to continue being in the spotlight. Ballmer purchased the L.A. Clippers for $2 billion, a sports franchise record, and it is roughly 20% of Ballmer’s wealth. I question (and I believe rightly so), how much Ballmer is really a fan of the NBA versus how much he absolutely needs the limelight, and to prove to himself he’s something special.

Certainly Ballmer’s ego is not going to handle “former Microsoft CEO” followed with words like “failed”, “fired”, “let go”, or “lost their way”, for any length of time. Microsoft dominated the tech industry when Ballmer became its CEO, and a little more than a decade later the company is floundering in almost every new market it has attempted to enter, culminating in the company's largest ever layoff of 18,000 employees.

Is Steve Ballmer literally crazy? No. He has his rational moments, but they seem to becoming more and more rare. One thing is abundantly clear: until Steve Ballmer squanders all his money away, he seems bent on spending it to stay relevant in his own mind, one way or another. It was certainly more fun watching him run Microsoft into the ground, because I was beginning to like the Clippers, and I fear he will Microsoft this rising franchise.

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