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:
No, Ballmer’s autocue wasn’t stuck. Rather, he was emphasizing the profound importance of software programmers to Microsoft’s burgeoning business.
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, adding enthusiastically, “Toilets, toilets, toilets.” Although the revelation lacked the frenzied intensity and shirt-stained sweat of his most famous outburst, the confident delivery will still have reminded some folks of that remarkable on-stage incident all those years ago.
Ballmer’s interest in toilets apparently came about as he worked with architects on the design of the LA Clippers’ under-construction Intuit Dome, an 18,000-seat arena in Inglewood, California, that’s set to host its first game in 2024.
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 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.