Yesterday, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was honored during the opening of the Global Innovation Exchange building in Bellevue, Washington. For those unfamiliar, GIX is a global partnership between major research universities such as the University of Washington and Tsinghua University in China, as well as tech companies like Microsoft. As the project received $40 million in funding from the Redmond giant, the company had the opportunity to pick a name for the new GIX building, which was named after the former Microsoft CEO (via GeekWire).
The new 3-story, 100,000 square-foot Steve Ballmer building will be the home of a graduate school that will soon welcome 44 students from all over the world. Ballmer, who led Microsoft to open its first research center in China during his tenure was apparently thrilled to see the GIX project come to reality. “I actually gave Brad a hard time even before I left [Microsoft] about this thing,” shared Ballmer. “This exists despite anything I had to do with it, and I salute everybody for that because it’s a brilliant thing,” explained the former Microsoft exec, adding that he was “beyond impressed by what’s here and what’s going on.”
In addition to Ballmer, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith were also in the attendance, and the two of them shared some kind words about the former exec. “It was not a difficult decision,” Smith said. “In the 42-year history of Microsoft, no one has done more than one person to take Microsoft to the world to build our subsidiaries and to connect us with people and customers around the world.”
Nadella echoed this sentiment, highlighting Ballmer’s ambition to create groundbreaking partnerships around the world. “That partnership model was core to Microsoft’s success and core to the approach that Steve has inculcated in everything that we do,” added Nadella. The CEO also took the time to share one its fondest memories of Ballmer right when he had just joined Microsoft back in 1992:
“Steve stopped by my desk and gave me one of the infamous high fives that only he can do,” Nadella said. “He expressed his immense enthusiasm for me joining Microsoft. I was an entry level guy at that time at Microsoft and here was the CEO walking by my office and sort of giving me this high five. In some sense, I was a changed person after that.”
You heard it from Nadella himself, receiving a high-five from Ballmer can change a man for the better. For this very simple reason, the former Microsoft CEO definitely deserved to have a building named after himself.