CEO Steve Ballmer kicked off the Financial Analyst Meeting this morning with the declaration of a new era at Microsoft.
He started by listing a series of recent firsts, both personally and for the company:
Ballmer took his first trip, outside of the context of this annual meeting, to Wall Street to talk with analysts and investors.
“If the dialogue that I had recently when I was [talking to Wall Street] is any indication, I’m sure we’ll have quite a lively day,” he noted.
It was the first time he felt like analysts and other company watchers were asking real questions about the potential paybacks of Microsoft’s investments. In the past, he was asked whether Microsoft would win or lose, but there were never questions about whether the company’s investments would be successful.
This is the first Financial Analyst Meeting without Bill Gates, who is on vacation somewhere in Africa, Ballmer said. This is also the first time Ballmer has addressed the investor community broadly since Gates announced his plan to transition during the next two years from full-time to part-time work at Microsoft.
He noted how that will change his own role.
“On June 16, I said, ‘Look, over the next two years, I have to become the full-time champion of innovation,'” Ballmer said. He also noted that Craig Mundie and Ray Ozzie, who are assuming many of Gates’ responsibilities and will present later today, will focus on innovation as well.
He said the new era of Microsoft will be more exciting, generate more shareholder value and drive more innovation to change the world for the better.
Now we await the details.