Steve Ballmer was Microsoft’s CEO from 2000 to 2014, and today he is one of the world's wealthiest individuals, primarily thanks to his stake in Microsoft, along with the company’s founder, Bill Gates.
As well as his investment in Microsoft, Ballmer is also the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers.
According to Bloomberg, Steve Ballmer has a total net worth of $115 billion, making him the ninth richest person in the world, and one of a handful of individuals who’ve built large fortunes from technology.
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Here we look at how Steve Ballmer built his fortune and the factors contributing to his net wealth today.
Steve Ballmer’s net worth history
Steve Ballmer became CEO of Microsoft in 2000, succeeding Bill Gates who co-founded the business and acted until it’s CEO until 2000. Ballmer had joined Microsoft in the early days, back in 1980 as the company's 30th employee. As the business grew, he worked his way up through the ranks. He served in various roles, including Senior Vice President of Sales and Support, before being named CEO, having built a vast understanding of the enterprise.
Ballmer's leadership style was known for being energetic and passionate, which was required at the time. During his tenure, Microsoft underwent a period of explosive growth, particularly in enterprise software and cloud computing and Ballmer's leadership played a key role in the expansion of Microsoft's offering, mainly in the enterprise software (or business software) market.
The Windows operating system has always been Microsoft's flagship product, and it was a world-beating product when Ballmer took over. However, it continued to evolve and improve throughout the 2000s, under the new CEO's leadership. The release of Windows XP in 2001 was a significant milestone, helping the company cement its position in the market at a time when the world was seeing a tech revolution.
But Microsoft never took its position for granted. As the internet became more important in people's lives, and more companies sprang up offering connected services, Microsoft shifted to developing software and services optimized for online use, away from PC-based operating systems. Products like Internet Explorer and MSN Messenger made sure the business was at the forefront of the internet revolution, and Ballmer was a key player in pushing the business towards these markets.
The development of products such as Azure and Office 365, also developed under Ballmer’s leadership, helped Microsoft become the go-to cloud computing and internet enable tech group in the world. As it rode the growth of technology, revenues grew from $25 billion in 2000 to over $70 billion in 2013.
Despite the company’s success during the 2000s, Ballmer missed some key opportunities, such as mobile devices and search. Ballmer famously dismissed the potential of the iPhone upon its release, and Microsoft's own attempts at creating a mobile operating system were met with little success - something the business is still paying for to this day, although its position in the cloud market has helped it offset most of the lost profits.
Additionally, the company struggled to compete with Google in the search market, with its Bing search engine failing to gain significant market share. This is also something the business is struggling with even to this day, although Microsoft is a key shareholder in ChatGPT’s parent company OpenAI, and this might help the enterprise gain an edge over its long-time rival.
What Ballmer did pick up on was the growth of the global gaming market. The establishment of the company's Xbox gaming division took Microsoft out of its core market, and opened up a huge new one, even though it was a risk to begin with. Today, Xbox is one of the main console providers in the world.
In 2014, Ballmer stepped down as CEO of Microsoft, marking the end of an era for the company, but the beginning of a new one as it started to build on the success of the Ballmer era.
How Steve Ballmer spends his money
While Ballmer retired as CEO of Microsoft in 2014, he has continued to stay active in the tech industry, investing in several other tech startups, including Twitter and Airbnb.
One of Ballmer's main focuses today is his role as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, a professional basketball team in the NBA, which he acquired in 2014. He is also a lecturer at Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he shares his insights and experience with the next generation of business leaders and founded the Ballmer Group, a philanthropic organization with his wife, Connie.
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Vaishali graduated in journalism from Leeds University and she has experience working with the likes of Leicester Mercury, Inews and The Week. She also comes from a marketing background, where she has done copywriting and content creation for businesses.
Currently writing about all things personal finance, Vaishali is passionate about finding the best deals around, whether it's the best credit cards or the cheapest personal loans, as well as sharing top money hacks to help people save and better manage their money.
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