Steve Ballmer is the former CEO of Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker. He stepped down in 2014 and remains a shareholder in the Redmond, Washington-based company, which makes the Windows operating system, the Xbox game console and Surface tablet computers. Ballmer also owns the L.A. Clippers basketball team.
The majority of Ballmer’s fortune is derived from a stake in Microsoft, the world’s biggest software maker. The company’s former chief executive officer is assumed to still own about 4% of the company.
His stake was last disclosed in Microsoft’s 2014 proxy, when he had 333 million shares. He’s calculated to have since sold 14 million shares to cover almost one-third of the $2 billion purchase price of the Los Angeles Clippers, the basketball team he purchased in August 2014.
It’s assumed that he still holds the remainder of his Microsoft shares based on subsequent comments by the billionaire including a 2018 Bloomberg interview where he said he continued to be the company’s largest individual shareholder.
He’s collected more than $12 billion from dividends and the sale of Microsoft shares, according to an analysis of Bloomberg data as of December 2022, and the value of his cash investments is based on these proceeds as well as taxes and market performance. More than $2 billion has been deducted from his cash holdings to reflect charitable giving.
The Los Angeles Clippers are valued at $3.73 billion based on a 2022 analysis by valuation consultants Sportico. Ballmer bought The Forum entertainment venue in Los Angeles in 2020 for $400 million to resolve a legal dispute over the construction of a new $2 billion arena, The Intuit Dome, that he’s building for the Clippers. The Dome is valued at its construction cost and The Forum at its purchase price.
Peter Wootton, a spokesman for the Redmond, Washington-based company, said Ballmer declined to comment on his net worth.
Education: Harvard University
Born to a Ford manager who served as an interpreter at the Nuremberg trials, Steve Ballmer attended math camp as a child. He attended Harvard University, where he majored in math and economics, managed the football team and, perhaps more important for the future of personal computing, lived down the hall from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates.
After Harvard, Ballmer marketed Duncan Hines Moist ‘n Easy cake mix at Procter & Gamble, where he shared a cubicle with Jeffrey Immelt. Gates persuaded him to drop out of Stanford University business school after one year to join Microsoft as employee No. 30 in 1980.
At Microsoft, he rose to the rank of president and then took over for Gates as chief executive officer in 2000.
While Microsoft’s revenue tripled under Ballmer’s tenure, the company fell behind Apple and Google in areas like mobile phones, tablet computers and internet search. To counter the slippage, Ballmer bought internet communications firm Skype for $8.5 billion in 2011. He retired from Microsoft in February 2014 and in May of that year became its largest individual shareholder after Gates sold 4.6 million shares.
He bought the NBA basketball franchise L.A. Clippers for $2 billion in 2014. That same year he founded Ballmer Group with his wife Connie. The philanthropic vehicle supports efforts to improve economic mobility for children and families in the US. Ballmer, who married Connie Snyder, a public relations executive who worked on the Microsoft account in 1990, still drives Ford cars in deference to his father.
- 1956 Steven Anthony Ballmer is born in Detroit, Michigan.
- 1974 Enrolls at Harvard, where he meets Bill Gates.
- 1977 Graduates from Harvard with a degree in math and economics.
- 1980 Drops out of Stanford business school to join Microsoft.
- 1998 Elevated to president of Microsoft.
- 2000 Gates relinquishes chief executive title, hands role to Ballmer.
- 2001 Releases Xbox, Microsoft’s first consumer electronics product.
- 2010 After a seven-year hiatus, sells $2 billion of Microsoft stock.
- 2014 Buys L.A. Clippers for $2 billion.
- 2015 Builds 4 percent stake in microblogging site Twitter.
- 2020 Buys The Forum in Los Angeles to resolve dispute over new basketball venue.
- 2021 Breaks ground on new home for LA Clippers, the Intuit Arena.