News Worms
News Worms

Steve Ballmer launches USAFacts — GeekWire

Steve Ballmer launches USAFacts — GeekWire

The ex-Microsoft chief executive said that Twitter's stock was "overrated" at one point and that he bought shares in the company at a higher price than the current $14.40 value. The total price tag is around $10 million, and he's willing to spend even more to keep it around.

Balmer was careful remain personally objective on the project, noting to the New York Times that he didn't use the project as a tax write-off. He was looking for something new to do and his wife urged him to help out with her philanthropy efforts. I hope not. An economics professor I had in college once said it would be very good for democracy if at the end of your 1040 tax return, you were given a list of government programs to select as worthy of your tax payments.

That conversation led Mr. Ballmer to pursue what may be one of the most ambitious private projects undertaken to answer a question that has long vexed the public and politicians alike.

Describing it, Ballmer's "numbers guy" persona becomes apparent, calling USAFacts "the equivalent of a 10-K for government", an annual filing companies create. With the stated mission to "spur serious, reasoned, and informed debate on the goal and functions of government", USAFact should be a go-to source for anyone looking to research government spending for a presentation to simply winning an argument on social media.

The project costed more than $10 million, according to the New York Times as a group of researchers from Seattle were assembled, as well as a grant to the University of Pennsylvania in order to fund this research. Ballmer's aim is to dispel commonly squawked myths about the government's supposed excesses, and show what it actually does.

The site will continue to be updated with new data as it is released by government agencies, and will inform viewers which release of data the site is using from each source.

"I wanted to paint a story of what our tax really goes on", he said. "My hope is that Steve's initiative will serve as a flashlight for those fearless souls who trundle down the stairs in search of data-based facts over emotion-based rhetoric", he said. If you would like to discuss another topic, look for a relevant article. "This is to stimulate homeownership amongst people who are already going to own homes".

"It is surprising to me it was not open from the beginning", he said.

"You know, when I really wanted to understand in depth what a company was doing, Amazon or Apple, I'd get their 10-K and read it", he told me in a recent interview in NY.

For example, Ballmer, said: "You know it's not legal to know how many firearms that are in this country?"


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