Microsoft's Steve Ballmer: Checkbook Open for Acquisitions

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, the first speaker at the Web 2.0 Summit today, said the software giant’s checkbook is still open for buying about 20 companies a year, between $50 million and $1 billion a shot. That would seem to eliminate the usual recent suspects associated with Microsoft, such as Yahoo! and Facebook.But Ballmer was coy when cohost John Battelle asked if Microsoft was “involved” with Facebook’s financing, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg basically confirmed yesterday. “We have a great partnership on ads,” Ballmer replied. “We’ll see where it all takes us.” He also said that while Facebook has done a “really nice job” on its applications platform, “I don’t look at it as a threat.” Then a Microsoft colleague proceeded to demo Microsoft’s Popfly, a way to create applications without programming—even applications on Facebook. Popfly goes into public beta today.Ballmer also declined to say whether Microsoft, as rumored widely, is losing money on its Facebook ad deal. “The most important thing is, we’re learning more every day.” No doubt.And Yahoo? Ballmer wouldn’t comment on whether Microsoft, repeatedly mentioned as a suitor, would pull that trigger. But he added, “We believe in our independent path.”Battelle asked if Microsoft needs to whack its search kids upside the head to do a better job vs. Google. Here, Ballmer showed his trademark excitability. He said the “kids” are only three years old, doing a great job, and “You’re gonna dunk the other guy someday, Johnny!”Technorati Tags: Microsoft, web2summit, startups, Facebook, Yahoo

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