Former Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer and civil rights activist Jesse Jackson livened up the technology company's annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, grabbing the spotlight from the current leaders on stage.
Ballmer, who retired as CEO in February but is still the company's biggest individual shareholder, sat next to Jackson in the second row of the Meydenbauer Center auditorium, packed with about 400 shareholders. He chatted warmly with Jackson before and after the meeting, surrounded by well-wishers and photographers.
The famously loud Ballmer, who had several clashes with the board in his 14 years as CEO, applauded several times but was not always impressed with responses from the stage.
"That last answer sucked!" Ballmer whispered to an acquaintance, quite loudly, immediately after the meeting ended, referring to a roundabout reply by Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood.
A shareholder had asked at what price Microsoft would consider not buying back its own shares, a question on many investors' minds after the stock has risen 82 percent over the past two years to 14-year highs.