Steve Ballmer brought his trademark fist-pumping high energy to the guest chair on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” on Tuesday night and the former Microsoft CEO laughed his way through a discussion on early computing, brownie mix, government data and his beloved pro basketball team.
Ballmer recalled the story about how he told his parents he was dropping out of business school in 1980 to join Microsoft and work on computer software. Ballmer said his father asked, “What’s software?” and his mother asked, “Why would a person ever need a computer?”
It’s funny today, but his parents were smart people, Ballmer said, and in 1980 “those were reasonable questions.”
Ballmer also discussed how he got his start at Duncan Hines, working on the “moist and easy” cake mix team among other things, and he touched on his latest venture, USAFacts, in which he aims to shine a light on real government data in the hope that the numbers will rise above partisan politics.
One number worth discussing with Kimmel was what Ballmer paid for the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers in 2014.
“You did one of the craziest things anyone has ever done,” Kimmel said. “You paid $2 billion for the Clippers. … You knew about them going in, right?”
Ballmer called Los Angeles the greatest place in the NBA to play basketball, and said he wants the Clippers to have their own arena and identity away from Staples Center, a home they share with L.A.’s Lakers and the Kings hockey team.
“I feel like you’re going to have no money at the end of this,” Kimmel said. “You’re going to be living in my guest house.”
Ballmer said that when dies — hopefully a long time from now — whomever sells the team after his death will realize a very good profit. Kimmel expressed fear that winning an NBA championship could be the thing that kills the exceptionally enthused Ballmer.
“It would be a good way to go though, wouldn’t it?” Ballmer replied.[Editor’s Note: GeekWire partnered with Steve Ballmer and his USAFacts initiative on the Numbers Geek podcast, exploring the data behind some of the most significant issues facing the country, as well as business and sports.]