Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Trump's style

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 2, 2016. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


STEVE BALLMER, FORMER CEO, MICROSOFT:  I have four worded words for you.  I love this company.  Yes.



NEIL CAVUTO, HOST:  You know, you can do that when you're worth $24 billion.  

Steve Ballmer, the former head of Microsoft, he was the CEO from 2000 to roughly 2014, but well known for engendering passion, not only at corporate event, but now that he owns the L.A. Clippers, at every sold-out game.  He is there front and center.

So he does admire that aspect of president-elect Donald Trump, who can get a crowd going.  

So, I caught up with the billionaire, who doesn't get a chance to talk to the media too often, and his advice for Donald Trump. Take a look.  


BALLMER:  Not for me to give advice to the president of the United States, a whole different thing.  

I do think it is fun for people who are leaders to both have a chance to be thoughtful and serious, but also kind of feel it a little bit and show people that you're in and you're excited.

And in general, I think that's a good thing for leaders, as opposed to be all stiff and formal.  But you don't want to look like a madman who has no real thoughtfulness and sort of contemplative nature.  

CAVUTO:  Yes, but -- and I'm not blowing you smoke, Steve, but you could keep people really glued to their seats in an audience.  And that is because you did physically glue them into their seats.

But, no, I'm kidding.  


CAVUTO:  But that the idea was you're trying to jazz a crowd, you're trying to get them into what you're talking about, whether you're talking about developers or Clippers fans.  

There's not much difference here keeping them engaged.  Right?  


And I think it is really important.  When you have a group of people in front of you, they have come, yes, to hear your message, but they also kind of want to -- they want to be there.  They want to be excited.  They want to be inspired.  And you are right.  You bring people to a computer conference and you want them not only to understand what you're saying.  
You want them to follow you.  You want them to be enthusiastic.  

We get guys to Clipper games, the number one thing I care about actually on the business side of the Clips is how loud we can get our fans bumping and thumping during the game, because I think it's exciting for the fans and, by the way, it's great for the team.  

CAVUTO:  And it's sold out every game since you have had them, so you're doing something right.  

Let's talk a little bit about now in this post-election environment -- I have no idea who you supported or voted for.  I know you're wife, Connie Ballmer, had donated to Hillary Clinton earlier in campaign year.  How is she faring now?  

BALLMER:  Well, she and I both, actually, we're focused in on our issues.

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

BALLMER:  And for me, it's sort of like when you run Microsoft.  You're not-- as the CEO of a company, you're not a Democrat, you're not a Republican, not at least in your business.  You're all about Microsoft.  You're all about whatever company you lead.  

The issue we're very focused in on is, how do kids who are born in tough circumstances get a shot at the American dream?  And there literally are communities in this country where 50 percent of the kids are -- the probability, rather, is 50 percent of the kids are not going to do any better than their parents.

And I just think -- I think people ought to deserve a better shot, whether we have Republicans in office or Democrats in office.  We're working with everybody on that particular goal.  

CAVUTO:  The markets and their response since the election of Donald Trump. Obviously, all key sectors have benefited.  The aggregates have benefited. A lot of people seem to think this is a sign of more robust activity to come.  Interest rates have been backing up.  

What do you think about all this?  

BALLMER:  Well, I think there's an excitement about what might be.  I think if you just take a look at what the incoming administration has talked about, it's talked somehow about reduced taxes, which means there's going to be more money to go buy things.  That should propel stocks up, if you will.  


CAVUTO:  Do you think that's a good idea, reduce taxes?

BALLMER:  There's been some talk of more spending.

CAVUTO:  Yes.  

BALLMER:  Pardon me?  

CAVUTO:  I'm sorry.

Do you think that's a good idea, reduce taxes in all brackets?  That's what Donald Trump is talking about.  

BALLMER:  I will say, my -- it's a complex system.  

If you ask my sort of general opinion, independent of the facts, in the long run, I do think it's nice if the budget balances.  And there are a lot of ways to get the budget to balance.  But Democrats or Republican administrations, at least this citizen, not this presenter of facts, this citizen would like to see the budget balanced.

And the president and his team will have to figure out what they think about that and how to get there.  

CAVUTO:  You don't think you can do it the way he's presently telegraphing it with tax cuts, right?

BALLMER:  No, no, I actually don't make that comment.  

As I said, it's very complicated.  Even the tax system is a little complicated, which is partly why people would like to simply identify it. I like the budget to balance.  And there may be other ways to get there, but I think running deficits is just -- I understand the debt financing and all that kind of stuff.  

It just makes me nervous.  I don't like to have debt.  I hope our country is not holding that much debt, because, at the end of the day, the debt the country is holding is all debt that the citizens owe.  We're borrowing money essentially from our children, and that doesn't seem quite right and fair to me.  

CAVUTO:  Well, it depends if you like your children on a given day, I guess, but just a thought.  


CAVUTO:  What do you -- and we will go to a quick break here -- the technology community, by and large, was not a fan of Donald Trump.  

I'm not talking monolithically.  But they have sent signals that they want to work with the president-elect.  It's the patriotic thing to do.  Even Apple has talked about maybe building some of those iPhones in the United States.  Now, obviously, that would make for much more expensive iPhones.  
But what do you make of that?  

BALLMER:  Well, I think the theme that president-elect Trump has come to, which is, hey, where can business think about doing more for job stimulation inside the country, that is not a bad theme at all.  

Now, exactly where that goes and what to do, will American citizens wind up paying more money for these goods that are produced, as you pointed out with the iPhone?  It's kind of a complicated picture.  But having the general theme out there for companies to think about, i.e., can we figure out ways to lower -- and engineer our costs lower and still do great work in the United States, that's a perfectly great theme.  

Doesn't mean there still won't be things that happen outside the U.S., but I think it will force companies just to think a little harder.  

CAVUTO:  Do you ever talk much with Bill Gates?  I know you were quoting saying: "We drifted apart.  He has got his life, I have got mine."

Where do you guys stand right now?
BALLMER:  Well, we have drifted apart, I think.

I have said about what I would say on that topic.  I'm fired up about what I'm doing, and seems like he is, too.  

CAVUTO:  Yes.  Now, he's big into philanthropy.  Warren Buffett has said he's going to give every last penny to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.  

What are your intentions with your billions, I guess $24 billion or so at last count?  But what do you want to do?

BALLMER:  Well, that's probably the thing that really I have dialed up the most I -- since I retired.  

My wife had spent about 10 years looking at child welfare.  I joined her really in the Ballmer Group, as we call it, focusing in on issues of intergenerational poverty.  What can be done by not-for-profits, by government, by philanthropy to help create opportunities?

If you're born in the bottom quintile in this country and you live in certain neighborhoods, you're almost consigned, 50 percent likely to stay as poor as your parents.  And that's not OK.  

So, from a philanthropy perspective, we will use whatever resources we can to invest in not-for-profits, trial things which could lead to government systems reform, whatever it takes to try to make something happen.  

Sometimes, it will be new programs, sometimes new money, but a lot of it actually is getting communities focusing on the process and how communities come together to help their most disadvantaged kids and give them a shot.  

So, from a philanthropy perspective, that's kind of my wife and my singular focus.  And it takes a lot of time.  It's a big, big kind of opportunity for us to contribute, but at the end of the day, it's something society has to get after.


CAVUTO:  But it's all going to go to these things.  

The reason why I ask is because Jon Huntsman Sr., the petrochemical billionaire, told me not too long ago that he was going to leave all of his money either to his Huntsman Foundation or charitable medical efforts, and nothing to the kids.  

And I always want to know how that Thanksgiving dinner went down.  But do your three kids know or that you are committed to this and they might not get your entire fortune?  

BALLMER:  My kids aren't focused in on it.  They will -- I'm very proud of the way they kind of work on their own and are very independent and want to be that.  

We will obviously give them something.  And at the same time, what I find the harder challenge is, is how to really sensibly and impactfully deploy our philanthropic resources.  My wife and I have been almost like, wow, what can we really do?  

We obviously -- it's not about handing cash out to people.  That's a job only government should consider.  So, how really do we use that money to be effective?  And we're working overtime on that and whatever we can put to use, we will.  

CAVUTO:  Steve Ballmer, I would have to have you back.  We're out of time. Great talking to you.  Best of luck.

I'm not a big Clippers fan.  I kind of like the Knicks, but that's just me.  

BALLMER:  OK, baby, we're going to get the Knicks here later in the season. You and I will talk about that.  



CAVUTO:  All right, passionate guy.  


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