What Makes Microsoft Run?

Apologies to Budd Schulberg, he probably never intended for Steve Ballmer and Sammy Glick to be mentioned in the same breath, so I won’t.

They may share some of the same lineage, but the comparison probably ends right there. On the other hand, reports of the behaviors of a young Bill Gates may have been more akin to the ruthless and one track minded Sammy, than Steve Ballmer ever could have been. But these days you would never know that, as he is busily placing fine netting over everything that moves.

Sammy GlickAs a stock, I love Microsoft, even though the investment universe looks at it as “dead money”. A look at the charts would indicate that Microsoft has been a pretty staid kind of stock, sort of like the shirts that Gates sports.

But today is a perfect example of why I love Microsoft, although its corporate name would have been far better suited for one of those e-mail spammers that has an herbal remedy to cure the Micro-soft condition that afflicts men of my generation.

Reportedly, Ballmer and company are about to part with about $8 billion to buy Skype.

Details aren’t out yet whether it was at a “Buy it Now” price or auction, as eBay still owns a piece of Skype.

There are lots of great minds out there and mine is not one of them, yet what we have in common is the asking of a simple question:


Does Hotmail need to be jazzed up? You probably would need a Haitian Voodoo Priest to reawaken Hotmail.

The prevailing wisdom is that Microsoft would have been better off buying $8 billion in silver.

Although that’s not likely to happen, even though it could easily dip into its coffers for that type of pocket change.

But I for one, am glad that silver was not on its radar.

The problem with a ludicrously funny suggestion is that if the price of silver started to climb again, Microsoft’s stock price might actually make significant strides.

I, for one, don’t want their stock price going anywhere.

I have owned Microsoft off and on for a couple of years. It pays a dividend that keeps going up. But much more importantly, it trades in a very tight range following the March 2009 stock market rebound and pays a nice options premium on near the money call contracts.

Microsoft has become my 2.5% monthly annuity.

I love the boredom.

The nice thing about this purchase is that if it doesn’t add anything to Microsoft’s bottom line, and in fact, is written off for its full amount, it means nothing.

Conversely, if it adds to the bottom line, it means nothing.

If Microsoft spins it off, it means nothing.

Do you see the trend here?

I find great meaning in nothing.

To this day, I’m still not certain how Microsoft makes so much money.

Yeah, I understand the operating system and the little ca-ching that comes with each PC sale, but my understanding of that still comes while I pound away on Office97 and fire up my diesel powered Netscape 4.0 browser.

But I still don’t care how they make their money, as long as they just stay staid.

Was Sammy Glick boring?

BallmerHow about Ballmer?

For my portfolilo, I’ll take Ballmer any day, and besides, Hollywood is much more likely to make the Steve Ballmer story than the Sammy Glick story.

After 70 years, I think Sammy has nothing left in him to make him run.


Microsoft on the other hand can chug along forever under everyone’s radar all the way to my bank.

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