The Buzz

All markets and investing news all the time

Nadella blunder worse than any of Ballmer's

October 10, 2014: 1:47 PM ET
Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had no idea that instant karma was going to knock new Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella right in the head.

Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer had no idea instant karma was going to knock Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella right in the head.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer did a lot of things that were pretty embarrassing when he was the CEO of Microsoft (MSFT). But none of them hold a candle to the ridiculous comments by his successor, Satya Nadella.

Nadella told attendees at a tech conference for women this week that female employees shouldn't ask for raises because it would be "good karma" to not do so. He also suggested that women should have faith that "the system" will compensate them over the long haul and that staying silent was even one of the "superpowers" for women.

You can watch the remarks in the video below, along with analysis from CNN's Maggie Lake and Laurie Segall.

Nadella later apologized on Twitter.

But the damage was done. The reaction on social media was swift and justifiably harsh.

Can Nadella recover from this? Probably. But it's a huge stain on his reputation, which up until now was unblemished.

Wall Street loves the fact that Nadella was the anti-Ballmer. He's more reserved and calm. He clearly gets where tech is going, and investors are excited by his emphasis on mobile and cloud computing. Microsoft's stock is up more than 25% since Nadella was named CEO in February.

Shares did fall Friday though, prompting me to tweet this unsolicited advice for Nadella before the market opened.

Still, Nadella's poor choice of words did make me nostalgic for some of Ballmer's zany antics. They seem quaint in comparison to Nadella's blunder. Let's stroll down memory lane.

There's the famous monkey boy dance.

Then there's his bizarre "Developers! Developers! Developers!" rally cry. (Although I sympathize with Steve regarding the sweaty shirt.)

I'm not sure why Ballmer and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates ever decided to recreate "Night at the Roxbury" -- one of the least funny skits in "Saturday Night Live" history.

And there's this awesome promotional video for the first Windows way back in 1985.

The list goes on and on.

Ballmer laughed when asked about how well the iPhone would do after Apple (AAPL) first introduced it. Oops.

He dismissed the iPad as "just another PC" and joked that the Mac was more like a Mack truck while PCs were more elegant cars. Where's Britney Spears? Oops he did it again.

He cackled when someone asked him at a 2009 Microsoft developers (developers developers developers) conference about Google's (GOOGL) Chrome. "Who knows what this thing is?" Triple scoop of oops with a huge topping of wrong sauce.

But about the most controversial/offensive thing Ballmer ever did (besides not make Microsoft shareholders that much richer) was calling open source software Linux a cancer.

That was a stupid remark. But at least Ballmer didn't insult half of the U.S. population like Nadella did.

  • Microsoft CEO should be ...

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.

    Microsoft is still searching for a new CEO to replace Steve Ballmer. But I have a suggestion. Hire Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen.

    I'm a bit surprised that Narayen's name hasn't been mentioned at all.

    For one, Adobe MORE

    - Jan 23, 2014 2:08 PM ET
  • Microsoft gives Ballmer a reason to dance again

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.

    Windows 8 and the Surface tablet haven't exactly set the world on fire. Microsoft's new Xbox One game console hasn't gotten fantastic reviews either. And a lot more people Google themselves than Bing it.

    But don't MORE

    - May 30, 2013 12:34 PM ET
  • Hedge fund takes $2 billion stake in Microsoft

    Forget Windows. The future of Microsoft (MSFT) is in its enterprise software business and the cloud, said Jeffrey Ubben, founder and CEO of activist hedge fund ValueAct Capital.

    In fact, Ubben believes in Microsoft so much that he's taking a stake in the firm that's "within spitting distance" of $2 billion.

    The news sent shares of Microsoft up nearly 5%.

    "We see Microsoft's consumer strategy challenges and say who cares," said Ubben, MORE

    - Apr 22, 2013 3:11 PM ET
  • Microsoft: 'Air ball' of a tech stock

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, Abbott Laboratories and AbbVie, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.

    Just call Microsoft the Seattle Not-So SuperSonics.

    Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer is part of a group that may buy the NBA's Sacramento Kings and bring professional basketball back to the Emerald City. But hoops-starved fans MORE

    - Jan 10, 2013 1:10 PM ET
  • Microsoft's Steve Ballmer may have to watch his back

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Paul R. La Monica. Other than Time Warner, the parent of CNNMoney, and Abbott Laboratories, La Monica does not own positions in any individual stocks.

    Shares of Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) are trading near their all-time highs. Microsoft? Not so much. The stock is more than 50% below its peak price from late 1999.

    That's why some investors are growing increasingly MORE

    - Oct 18, 2012 5:00 PM ET
Fear & Greed
Sponsored by

To view my watchlist

Not a member yet?

Sign up now for a free account
Stupid Stock Move of the Day
#StupidStock Move of the Day! $AMZN up 3%. Rebounding with rest of tech. But with earnings Thursday, it seems risky to get too bullish, no?
Powered by WordPress.com VIP.
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 241 other followers