Microsoft yesterday held its annual shareholder meeting and it appears there was quite an interesting incident as former CEO Steve Ballmer expressed his unhappiness about the way the company reports the financial performance of its new hardware business and the cloud business.
While Ballmer retired from the CEO position in 2014, he's still the company's largest direct shareholder, has 333.2 million shares give him a roughly 4 percent ownership stake in Microsoft. ARS Technica reports Ballmer called bullshit on Microsoft's cloud business numbers and urged the software giant to disclose actual sales figures, instead of meaningless figures like annualized revenue run rate. Furthermore, Ballmer wants margins to be reported so investors can understand how the shift from software to hardware and cloud services will impact Microsoft's margins.
That's because the company hasn't disclosed profit margins or sales figures for either business. Ballmer says that revenue is a "key metric" and that if these businesses are important then the company "should report it." Rather than reporting these figures, Microsoft has reported its annualized revenue run rate—a hypothetical value that describes what the company's revenue would be if the current level of sales were sustained over the full year. Ballmer's view of the run rate: "Bullshit. They should report the revenue, not the run rate."
Ballmer also criticized Nadella's mobile strategy, which focuses on creating a larger universal app ecosystem that expands to PCs, tablets, the Xbox, and the HoloLens. Claiming that this strategy won't work, Ballmer stressed that Microsoft should focus on adding Android app support to Windows Phones:
Ballmer disagreed, saying that this strategy "won't work." Instead, he says that Windows Phones must "run Android apps." Microsoft's Project Astoria—a subsystem that allows Android apps to run on Windows 10 Mobile—was developed to enable just this, but it appears to have been sidelined for no clear reason, and is not a part of current builds of Windows 10 Mobile.