10 moonlighting ideas for underpaid Steve Ballmer

It's clear that the Microsoft CEO must take a second job to make ends meet

My ITworld colleague Kevin Fogarty lit into Steve Ballmer Wednesday after Microsoft's board of directors said in papers filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission that the company's CEO "is underpaid for his role and performance."

Kevin brought up the usual complaints about Microsoft sliding into irrelevance during Ballmer's reign and how investors are getting tired of a decade of flat-lining shares.

All accurate, but I thought Kevin was needlessly cruel. After all, he makes more blogging for ITworld in a month than the $1.38 million Ballmer received this year for running Microsoft into the ground. There's absolutely no need to rub his nose in it, Kevin!

One can only imagine the four Microsoft executives who make more money than Ballmer brandishing Kevin's blog in the chief executive's face during a "working lunch" -- and then laughing as Steve scrambles to pay the tab!

I've been rough on Ballmer in the past as well, but now it's my turn to play "good cop" to Kevin's bad.

So now that Kevin has beaten up Ballmer, I will help him up. Steve, you need extra cash, right? OK, let's get going. I've come up with 10 ways for you to pull down a few more George Washingtons.

Now, some of these ideas may take awhile to pan out, much like Zune. But you need to take the long view.

1. Become a blogger.

I know, it's almost a cliche now because everyone and his brother are "bloggers." But you would walk into the gig with an already high profile. I even have a name for your blog: "DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS DEVELOPERS!" The blog would be about developers.

Now here's the great thing: You don't even have to write the blog! You can outsource the work to someone on elance, just like Grouper founder Jerry Guo, who tried farming out his work for $5 a post to destitute writers with low self-esteem.

Of course, you can't pay for others to write your blog unless the blog is generating revenue. But with your name and a little something called Google AdSense, you could be making $100 to $250 a month right out of the gate!

2. Freelance through elance.

I'm pretty busy these days and have decided to post a job on elance for someone to write this Tech Business Today blog for $4 a post. However, I'm willing to let you do it for $3 a post. I'd give you the $4, but I'd like to see the quality of your writing first. Plus I want to give you a goal to shoot for!

There also are many other writing job opportunities on elance. What do you know about rice cookers or designer handbags?

3. Celebrity look-alike.

I've always thought you were a dead ringer for Peter Boyle, who, sadly, actually is dead. This might be a slow build at first, but when the Peter Boyle cult explodes -- and it's just a matter of time -- you will be the go-to guy for parties, personal appearances and trade shows. Get a top hat and tails and practice that "Puttin' on the Ritz" dance scene from Young Frankenstein and you will have any crowd eating out of your hand! You won't even know what to do with all the tips and phone numbers you'll get.

4. Mystery shopper.

This job should be a lot of fun, if you like shopping. If you don't, it will be like working at Microsoft for the chump change you're now making.

5. Bottle and can deposit returns.

Nearly every community has that happy-go-lucky, yet perhaps slightly disturbed guy who walks all around town with a giant plastic bag on his back, picking up bottles and cans that can be returned for 5 or 10 cents each. If no one's doing that on the Microsoft campus, you can be that slightly disturbed guy. Even better, work a deal with the custodial staff to have the bottles and cans brought right to your office when they're cleaning up at night. Your floors and chair might get a little sticky after awhile, but it's a small price to pay for the ol' ka-ching!

6. Computer tape technician.

This one looks right up your alley, though you may want to check your non-compete agreement first. I got this idea from a book of matches I found in an antique desk I just bought at a yard sale. They're hiring right now at Digital Equipment Corporation, according to the matchbook ad!

You know, now that I look at them, these matches seem really old.

7. through 10.

As I mentioned earlier, Steve, I'm pretty busy these days. I'm going to see if I can outsource the rest of these moonlighting job suggestions for you. In fact, if you're game, you can fill out the rest of the list for me on an "internship" basis.

Let me know when you're done.

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