Skip to main content

Forget developers, Steve Ballmer’s new passion is toilets

It was 21 years ago this month that a sweaty Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, bounced enthusiastically across the stage at a company event while shouting the word “developers” 14 times in a row. In case this entertaining spectacle — or terrifying episode, depending on your disposition — passed you by, here it is again:

Steve Balmer repeatedly says "Developers" at Windows Conference

No, the teleprompter wasn’t stuck. Rather, he was emphasizing the profound importance of software programmers to Microsoft’s burgeoning business.

Related Videos

Two decades on, and seven years after leaving Microsoft, Ballmer has found a new passion: Toilets.

We know this because at a recent event with fans of the Los Angeles Clippers — the basketball team that he bought in 2014 — Ballmer said so himself.

“I’m not ashamed to admit, I’ve become a real obsessive about toilets,” the former Microsoft CEO proclaimed before adding enthusiastically: “Toilets, toilets, toilets.” Although the revelation lacked the frenzied and shirt-stained intensity of his most famous outburst, the confident delivery will still have reminded some folks of that remarkable onstage incident all those years ago.

Ballmer’s interest in toilets apparently came about as he worked with architects on the design of the Clippers’ under-construction Intuit Dome, an 18,000-seat arena in Inglewood, California, that’s set to host its first game in 2024.

Intuit Dome Groundbreaking Ceremony

Warming to his subject, Ballmer happily shared the news that some sections of the Intuit Dome will have one toilet for every 27 fans, which, according to one of the facility’s architects, will make it the most bladder-friendly and line-reducing arena in the NBA.

“Big deal?” Ballmer asked the audience, before answering the question himself. “Well, it is a big deal when the game’s tied in the fourth quarter, there’s no question about that.”

Interestingly, Ballmer also revealed that the Intuit Dome will include Amazon Go-style concession stands that let you take what you want without having to wait in line to pay, with purchases instead automatically charged to your account. The system, which Amazon launched in 2018, uses specially designed software and numerous cameras to track customers as they make their choices.

Just like all of those toilets, the high-tech shopping system should enable LA Clippers fans to spend more time in their arena seats  so they don’t miss any of the action on the court.

Editors' Recommendations

Smartphones were the wedge between Ballmer and Gates
ballmer and gates were divided about phones 1

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has never been one to shy away from expressing his opinions. His demeanor on (and off) the Redmond campus has long been marked with passionate outbursts. And so when he expressed his enthusiasm about getting into the hardware space, Bill Gates and the Microsoft board weren't exactly on the same page. According to Fortune, this was a contributing factor to the two tech legends drifting apart in the early 2010's.

In the article, Ballmer indicates there was a "fundamental disagreement" about "how important it was to be in the hardware business," specifically phones. “I had pushed Surface. The board had been a little reluctant in supporting it. And then things came to a climax around what to do about the phone business.”

Read more
Air New Zealand’s ‘Pee Lab’ video lifts the lid on plane toilets
air new zealand pee lab plane toilet

The first time you flushed a toilet on a plane, you probably thought the entire aircraft – you included – was going to get sucked down the pipes, such is the incredible power of its noisy pneumatic vacuum.

Keen to lift the lid on one of the wonders of modern air travel, a trio of engineers from Air New Zealand's "Pee Lab" (looking at the paper sign, we have a feeling it's not official) recently knocked together a short video (below) featuring the humble plane toilet.

Read more
From Vince Neil to Steve Ballmer: Celebrity Apprentice rolls out new cast and advisors

NBC has confirmed the celebrity lineup for its latest season of Celebrity Apprentice, the first to be hosted by Arnold Schwarzenegger, along with a list of advisors that includes investment guru Warren Buffet and Steve Ballmer, former Microsoft CEO and all around loud person.

But first, the contestants. As per usual, the upcoming season will include 16 celebrities competing in business challenges to raise money for the charity of their choice. This year, the selection is heavy on the sports side, with a total of five from the sporting set, including Muhammad Ali’s daughter, Laila Ali (who is a retired boxing champion in her own right), former NFL star running back Eric Dickerson, Olympic medalist and WNBA star Lisa Leslie, mixed-martial arts fighter Chael Sonnen, and enigmatic former NFL running back Ricky Williams.

Read more