By Alisha Haridasani
Regulating how tech companies use consumers' personal data could help them grow and innovate, said the billionaire tech investor Steve Ballmer.
“You actually do need regulators across the world to provide some framework,” said Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, in an interview Tuesday with Cheddar's CEOJon Steinberg. “When you’re in a time of uncertainty, and you don’t know what the rules are, that’s when it’s toughest to innovate.”
Silicon Valley has been grappling with privacy concerns for years, said Ballmer. “It takes, sometimes, a crisis to get things to move,” he said, and Facebook may have provided that impetus.
Even before the social media company's CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified in Congress last month about the Cambridge Analytica data privacy breach, analysts and lawmakers had been discussing possible regulation. Since Zuckerberg's two-day grilling on Capitol Hill, Facebook and its competitors have had to consider new rules governing data privacy ー voluntary or imposed.
“They’re going to have to work hard to manage, whether it’s partly their own initiative or some regulation,” said Ballmer. “I trust they’ll get through it, I have a lot of belief in the people who run that company.”
Ballmer succeeded Bill Gates as the chief executive of Microsoft in 2000 and served as CEO until 2014. During his tenure, Microsoft faced immense competition from Apple. Ballmer oversaw Microsoft's entry into cloud computing services with Azure, the Windows software redesign, and the launch of the XBox game console.
But, by the time Ballmer resigned, smartphones and tablets were eating into the personal computer business, and the company needed a radical turn around. He was succeeded by current CEO Satya Nadella, who has implemented a cultural shift at the company that is driving growth.
Ballmer, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, also runs USAFacts, a company he founded to try to make government data more accessible.
For the full interview, click here.