Let’s put aside for a few minutes the business leadership qualities of our nation’s tech CEOs. Their ability to motivate thousands of employees, develop and market products, and keep shareholders happy is all well and good, but beer drinkers of the world I ask you this: Which of the tech titans would you rather have a few pints with?
This provocative question (the same question asked about George W. Bush and John Kerry during the ’04 election) was raised today in a Twitter post by ZDNet Editor in Chief Larry Dignan (@ldignan), who decided that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was the best tech exec for tipping back cold ones.
I have to agree. If it’s between Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Eric Schmidt, Carol Bartz and Larry Ellison, you gotta go with Ballmer just to see how much louder his loud voice would get after a beer buzz. Bartz would be a close second for her devil-may-care attitude. Or maybe you invite both: Hey, they’re search partners now — no reason they can’t be drinking buddies too.
Here are the pros and cons to having a beer with your favorite tech titan (in order of “drinking-buddy desirability”):
Steve Ballmer (Microsoft)
Pros: He’s a rowdy guy’s guy with a booming voice. He seems like the kind of high-energy fella who would hold court at most any bar, drink good American beer and tell some colorful stories about that guy Gates. Maybe he’ll get drunk enough to admit Vista sucked?
Cons: I think we’ve all seen the “Developers, Developers, Developers” video. And he was sober there — I think.
Slideshow: Steve Ballmer as emoticons
Carol Bartz (Yahoo)
Pros: Just to see what she’d say. If she drops F-bombs on calls with the press and analysts, imagine the poetic cursing that would ensue after a few Heinekens in an off-the-record environment: What does she really think of Larry Page and Sergey Brin?
Cons: One too many F-bombs and we might get kicked out of the bar.
Larry Ellison (Oracle)
Pros: You will drink like a king, lounging on a veranda overlooking the Pacific. Imported Asian beer only. Served to you in gold chalices by supermodels wearing red kimonos.
Cons: Larry Ellison will be there.
Eric Schmidt (Google)
Pros: Behind that cold stare, you occasionally get a playful smirk or witty one-liner from Google’s top man. I think that side of Schmidt would open up more with some pints. Plus, he knows the dirt on A LOT of people, like millions and millions of people.
Cons: When you take a bathroom break, he may go through your wallet and computer and sell the information to advertisers.
Steve Jobs (Apple)
Pros: I can’t think of any, but he may leave a prototype of the next iPhone on the bar. Don’t take it. It will only cause you trouble.
Cons: He may force you to buy a $9 beer when a perfectly good $5 beer will do.
Shane O’Neill is a senior writer at CIO.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/smoneill. Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter at twitter.com/CIOonline.