When Billionaires Get Real, It’s Time for Concern

Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer was named Media Person of the Year at Cannes. But what he had to say at the awards ceremony was pure gloom and doom, not the kind of thing one might expect from a billionaire tech titan.
According to the Guardian:

Ballmer, speaking at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival, argued that traditional broadcast and print media would have to plan business models around a smaller share of the advertising market, as revenues continue to move to digital outlets.
“I don’t think we are in a recession, I think we have reset,” he said. “A recession implies recovery [to pre-recession levels] and for planning purposes I don’t think we will. We have reset and won’t rebound and re-grow.”
For media businesses to successfully evolve they must provide the right combination of context and relevance to make a compelling online proposition for consumers, according to Ballmer.

This report from Reuters frames Ballmer’s words differently:

“I don’t think we’re in a recession,” said Ballmer.
“I don’t assume there is a recovery. I think we reset to a lower level and the world economy will grow again from this reset level.”
Ballmer said he was not sure if a full recovery would occur in one year or in two years from now.

In the first sequence, it seems that Ballmer is speaking about the media business. In the next, it seems he’s speaking more generally. Maybe someone who was there can clarify the matter for us.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.