COULD Microsoft’s former chief executive Steve Ballmer be destined to remain forever in the shadow of the tech giant’s illustrious founder Bill Gates? The recently retired boss appeared at Saïd Business School, Oxford yesterday to talk in front of a packed audience of MBAs and was repeatedly called “Bill” by host, Professor Peter Tufano.
Ballmer rocked on stage with his characteristic energy, whooping, clapping enthusiastically and calling people “dude” where possible, but his passion couldn’t stop the case of mistaken identity.
When Tufano was introducing the newly departed chief executive he said “Bill”, but covered it up expertly and few noticed.
But at the very end, just as Tufano was wrapping up following Ballmer’s speech about the importance of luck, he said: “Here at the school, we can’t give you luck but we can give you ideas...I can’t think of a better way than today, to get people like Bill [gesturing at Steve Ballmer] to come in…”
Steve reminded him of his actual name, chuckling, rubbing his bald head and saying “people do say we look alike.” The room erupted in laughter. Jolly good luck he’s a great sport.