Steve Ballmer spoke candidly in his first public appearance since leaving Microsoft, admitting today that he missed entering the smartphone market during his tenure at the company.
“We would have a stronger position in the phone market today if I could re-do the last 10 years,” he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Ballmer appeared at the Saïd Business School in Oxford, U.K., where he answered questions and gave advice to a packed room of students. The charismatic leader was reported to be his jovial self, showing little signs that his spirits had changed much since handing over the CEO role to Satya Nadella.
Despite the former executive’s frank remarks about the company’s position in mobile, he reminded the students that he has a huge stake in seeing Microsoft do well.
“I own 4 percent of Microsoft,” he said. “I care a lot about my child, and my investment, and therefore the investment of the other owners of the company.”
One of the more important investments for the company’s future, he said, was the proposed acquisition of Nokia, which would help the company regain some of the lost time in mobile.
He touched briefly on other subjects, like Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, saying that it likely wasn’t a fad, but had no clue if it would live up to its price tag or not. He also showed interest in healthcare and education.
But from the sound of it, it might be his golf game he works on next.
In an answer to one student’s question about what it was like to be incredibly wealthy and retired, Ballmer quipped: “I can play just about any golf course I want.”