"Quietly" is not a word that would usually describe any action performed by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. But quietly is exactly how Ballmer has conducted himself on Twitter, a site he joined over a year ago unbeknown to most of the technology world.
Just a few days ago, Ballmer was speaking in Kiev, Ukraine, and according to a transcript on the Microsoft website, Ballmer responded to an audience member who asked "when are you going to start tweeting?"
Ballmer said: "I have a Twitter account. I'm just very private about who I really am on Twitter."
"All right. I love KPI. Now you know how to find me on Twitter," Ballmer said, adding "I should have written Kiev Polytechnic because most people in the U.S. will think KPI means I love key performance indicators. But you know the truth. Steve B. Microsoft up on Twitter."
There is, it turns out, a twitter handle called @stevebmicrosoft, which issued the "I love kpi" tweet on Nov. 5. It's not a verified account, but presumably does belong to Ballmer.
The first tweet from the account was made April 18, 2009, with the text "Russia here we go." Ballmer toured Russia and Poland between April 20 and 24 last year). Ballmer's second tweet, apparently, was earlier in the day of his speech last week and said, simply, "Ukraine today." Later on Nov. 5, the Ballmer account reports "Great day in Kiev. Exciting things going on in technology In the Ukraine."
Despite the fact that Stevebmicrosoft has only tweeted four times, the account's follower numbers have risen to more than 2,400 since reports of the speech began to circulate. Ballmer himself is following four people, including Wall Street Journal tech columnist Walt Mossberg. Maybe if he starts using Twitter more often he'll decide to follow Bill Gates.