Steven Ballmer: From Microsoft CEO to LA Clippers Owner
Steven Ballmer's journey from a small-town upbringing in Detroit to the helm of one of the world's most influential technology companies, Microsoft, and his subsequent ownership of the LA Clippers is a testament to his business acumen and determination.
His energetic and passionate personality left an unforgettable mark on the tech industry, and his philanthropic efforts continue to shape various sectors. As one of the world's wealthiest individuals, Ballmer's legacy extends far beyond his time at Microsoft, making him a prominent figure in both the business and sports worlds.
Steven Anthony Ballmer, an American businessman of Jewish descent, left an indelible mark on the technology industry as the CEO of Microsoft from January 2000 to February 2014. He also gained fame as the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers in the NBA. This documentary-style article delves into the life and career of Steven Ballmer, a billionaire who achieved his wealth through stock options, rather than as a company founder or through family connections. As of November 2021, Forbes estimated his net worth at over $107 billion.
Steven Ballmer was born on March 24, 1956, in Detroit, Michigan, USA. His father, Frederick Ballmer, was a Swiss immigrant who worked as a translator during the Nuremberg Trials, and his mother, Beatrice Dworkin Ballmer, was the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Pinsk, Russia (now in Belarus). His maternal grandfather managed a used-car lot in Detroit. Ballmer grew up with his younger sister in Farmington Hills, near Detroit, where his father worked as a manager at Ford. It is said that even when his wealth reached approximately $14 billion, he drove a Lincoln Continental as a tribute to his father, who had worked for Ford for 30 years and to honor his hometown.
During his time at Detroit Country Day School, Ballmer managed the school's basketball team. He graduated in 1973 with a perfect score of 800 in the math portion of the SAT exam. He went on to attend Harvard University, where he developed a close friendship with Bill Gates. This friendship continued even after Gates left Harvard to establish the new software company, Microsoft. While at Harvard, Ballmer served as the manager of the university's two newspapers, The Harvard Crimson and The Harvard Advocate. In 1977, he completed his studies, earning a bachelor's degree in applied mathematics and economics.
Steven Ballmer is married to Connie Snyder (who also worked at Microsoft), and they have three children.
After completing his undergraduate studies, Ballmer worked for two years at Procter & Gamble as a product manager before enrolling at Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. There, he earned a master's degree in business administration. A year later, Ballmer left Stanford after Bill Gates convinced him to join Microsoft. He became Microsoft's 24th employee when he joined the company on June 11, 1980, as the first business manager hired by Gates. Initially, he was offered a salary of $50,000 and ownership stakes in the company. When Microsoft incorporated in 1981, Ballmer held an 8% ownership stake in the company.
Ballmer led various divisions at Microsoft, including operating systems development, operations, sales, and support. In July 1998, prior to becoming the company's CEO, he was appointed as its president. On January 13, 2000, he took over as CEO, succeeding Bill Gates, who stepped down.
While Gates focused on the company's technological vision, Ballmer handled its economic side. In 2003, he sold 8.6% of his Microsoft shares, leaving him with a 4% ownership stake in the company. That same year, Ballmer changed the company's stock option program in a way that made employees millionaires sooner.
Ballmer is known for his loud and expressive manner of speaking. A famous incident occurred in 1991 when he shouted, "Windows, Windows, Windows" repeatedly during a meeting in Japan, resulting in severe damage to his vocal cords, which required surgery.
Another well-known incident occurred at a Microsoft developers' conference when Ballmer took the stage accompanied by loud music and shouts. During his speech, he famously chanted, "Developers! Developers! Developers!" This incident has become a running joke about Ballmer and Microsoft.
On August 23, 2013, Ballmer announced his intention to retire as Microsoft CEO within the next year. In February 2014, he concluded his tenure as CEO but remained a member of the company's board of directors.
In 2014, Ballmer acquired the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team for $2 billion. Later that year, he stepped down from Microsoft's board of directors.
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