Ballmer, not one to be upstaged, decided to outdo his own comments on open-source acquisitions by saying, willy nilly, that Microsoft will buy 20 Web 2.0 startups each year. I guess he was tired of seeing Google and Yahoo! duke it out over Web 2.0 companies with a year's existence and no compelling business model for $30 million a pop. "I can do even better!" he charged.
He even said he'd spend between $50 million and $1 billion on each. That's between $5 billion and $100 billion, The Register suggests, between now and 2013. Normally it's a good idea to decide who and what to buy before you start deciding to shell out cash, but given Microsoft's historic record on acquisitions (it's hardly acquisitive by comparison with its competitors), maybe Ballmer was just trying to pump himself up to do it.
"I think I can, I think I can, I know I can, I'll try," says the Little Ballmer that Could.
The real trick now will be in how to spin one's company as a web company so as to swipe a bit of that $100 billion warchest. Web 2.0 + open source and you're now golden in Microsoft's eyes. Let the auction begin.