Steve Ballmer Says Tech Firms Should Be As Accountable As NBA Teams

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Steve Ballmer has worn many hats — as the CEO of Microsoft and the owner of the LA Clippers, to start — and his latest endeavor, launched earlier this year, is a comprehensive trove of government statistics called USA Facts. Ballmer recently sat down with Backchannel’s Steven Levy to discuss publishing government information, owning the Clippers, why he bought stock in Twitter, and what tech can learn from the world of professional sports: “There’s no hiding in sports. How well you’re doing is all entirely transparent, and there’s no way to talk yourself out of a jam, or confuse yourself. It’s hardcore — you either win or you lose. Your season’s over, or it’s not over. It’s just binary. It’s the highest accountability thing in the world. In basketball, every human on the planet can evaluate your performance. All the analytics are available. Everybody can watch all your games or write about it — the columnist knows absolutely everything that the general manager knows. Everything. Your individual human performance can get reviewed in a way that never happens in business. And every 24 seconds, I can tell you how good our teamwork is. That’s high accountability.” In response to a question asking if a tech company should publish everyone’s salary and be transparent to the press, Ballmer replied: “I only worked at one tech company, but I would say, the opportunity to improve accountability in the tech industry is not insubstantial. It’s different than Procter & Gamble, which got to show good soap sales every quarter. Some companies making money right now say they’re investing for the future. Where’s the accountability? You can say, ‘Well, the ultimate accountability’s the stock price.’ It sort of is, but it sort of isn’t. You can talk your stock price up. But you can’t talk up wins and losses.”


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