The story goes: After Steve Ballmer retired from his 34-year career at Microsoft in 2014, including 14 years as its CEO, he felt so lost that he spent weeks at home binging Netflix.
So when we sat down to talk to Ballmer during the Code conference a couple of weeks ago in LA, we asked him about it.
Turns out the story is sort of true and sort of not. When Ballmer left Microsoft he didn’t binge on Netflix. He became a golf fanatic, spending nearly every minute playing, he told us. He no longer plays that much but still calls golf his guilty pleasure.
But he did do a major Netflix binge. Only it was during the final three weeks when he was still technically working as Microsoft’s CEO.
“I binged in this show ‘The Good Wife.’ I watched 100 episodes of ‘The Good Wife’ in three weeks. That was actually before I retired. I had everything planned out so that we were going to announce my successor before Christmas. And then the board decided not to. They hadn’t made a final call. Can you start a new project when you think you hve two weeks left or three weeks left? So I said, now what do I do?” Ballmer laughed and mimed using the TV remote control.
The board announced Satya Nadella as Microsoft’s new CEO at the beginning of February, so he had a good month of free time on his hands.
And he may, actually, have binged on more than 100 episodes. “The Good Wife” aired over seven seasons for a total of 156 episodes.
Moral of the story: Even iconic CEOs at powerful tech companies are tempted to goof off at work after giving notice, just like a Regular Joe.