Last month, longtime Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced that he would be leaving the company within a year, and so the goodbyes began. The Verge reports that yesterday Mr. Ballmer held his final company meeting as CEO, and it sounds like he went out playing the role of Steve Ballmer, Tech Industry Character, to the hilt.
Mr. Ballmer didn’t simply promise employees that “we will deliver the next big thing… we will change the world again.” No, it sounds like he staged a combination tent revival and St. Crispian’s Day speech. He cued up “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin,’” the Michael Jackson song he played at his first company meeting in 1983, and then:
He then proceeded to jump and dance around the stage screaming at the top of his voice “the sound of Microsoft!” After the song ended, an emotional Ballmer paused to “enjoy this for a minute,” with tears visibly streaming down his face. “You work for the greatest company in the world, soak it in.”
Nor did his employees roll their eyes. “Microsoft employees in the audience shook hands with Ballmer and screamed ‘we love you’ as they cheered and clapped throughout his final speech,” the Verge reports. There’s no mention of faith healing, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Oh, and then there’s the Dirty Dancing moment:
Ballmer ended his emotional speech with Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes’ “I’ve had The Time of My Life” playing in the background before he screamed “I’ve had the time of my life” and continued to dance and run around the stage.
Us too, Steve-o. Us too.
UPDATE, Saturday 9:24 a.m.: The Verge has video. Unfortunately you can’t embed it, but it is more than worth clicking. No one has ever loved his company this much. “This is my whole professional world,” he tells the audience, sniffling throughout. “Microsoft is like my fourth child. Children do leave the house–in this case I guess I’m leaving the house.”
His last song “is one I’ve always wanted to use but it was always deemed inappropriate,” adding at the audience chuckles, “not THAT kind of inappropriate.” It’s one of his favorite songs, from his favorite movies. (Cue to Mr. Ballmer sitting alone in the home theater of his mega mansion, watching the finale of Dirty Dancing, tears streaming down his face.)
“I wanted to pick a song that was exactly perfect–a song that let me say thank you, a song that looked back retrospectively, and a song that celebrated the future,” he tells the Microsoft employees, before the choking up on his final line: “You’ve made this the time of my life.”