Photo: (Martin Olsson (username 'mnemo' on en/sv wikipedia and commons, [email protected]). / CC BY-SA (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/))
Born: March 24, 1956
Age: 63 years
Born Place: Detroit, Michigan, United States
Spouse: Connie Snyder (m. 1990)
Education: Harvard University (BA), Stanford University
Net Worth: US$63.6 billion (May 2020)
Steven Anthony Ballmer (born March 24, 1956) is an American businessman and investor who was the chief executive officer of Microsoft from January 13, 2000, to February 4, 2014, and is the current owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA). As of 22nd July 2020, according to Forbes, his personal wealth is estimated at US $71.4 billion, ranking him the 11th richest person in the world.
Ballmer was hired by Bill Gates at Microsoft in 1980 and subsequently left the MBA program at Stanford University. He eventually became President in 1998, and replaced Gates as CEO in 2000. On February 4, 2014, Ballmer retired as CEO and resigned from the Board of Directors on August 19, 2014 to prepare for teaching a new class.
On May 29, 2014, Ballmer placed a bid of $2 billion to purchase the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers after NBA commissioner Adam Silver forced Donald Sterling to sell the team. He became the Los Angeles Clippers owner on August 12, 2014; Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was a fellow owner in the NBA, having owned the Portland Trail Blazers since 1988.
His tenure and legacy as Microsoft CEO has received mixed reception, with the company tripling sales and doubling profits, but losing its market dominance and missing out on 21st-century technology trends.
In 1990, Ballmer married Connie Snyder; they have three sons.
The Ballmers live in Hunts Point, Washington.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Ballmer was born in Detroit; he is the son of Beatrice Dworkin and Frederic Henry Ballmer (Fritz Hans Ballmer), a manager at the Ford Motor Company. His father was a Swiss immigrant who predicted that his son, at eight years old, would attend Harvard. His mother was Belarusian Jewish. Through his mother, Ballmer is a second cousin of actress and comedian Gilda Radner. Ballmer grew up in the affluent community of Farmington Hills, Michigan. Ballmer also lived in Brussels from 1964 to 1967, where he attended the International School of Brussels.
In 1973, he attended college prep and engineering classes at Lawrence Technological University. He graduated as valedictorian from Detroit Country Day School, a private college preparatory school in Beverly Hills, Michigan, with a score of 800 on the mathematical section of the SAT and was a National Merit Scholar. He now sits on the school’s board of directors. In 1977, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts in applied mathematics and economics.
At college, Ballmer was a manager for the Harvard Crimson football team and a member of the Fox Club, worked on The Harvard Crimson newspaper as well as the Harvard Advocate, and lived down the hall from fellow sophomore Bill Gates. He scored highly in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, an exam sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, scoring higher than Bill Gates. He then worked as an assistant product manager at Procter & Gamble for two years, where he shared an office with Jeffrey R. Immelt, who later became CEO of General Electric. After briefly trying to write screenplays in Hollywood, in 1980 Ballmer dropped out of the Stanford Graduate School of Business to join Microsoft.
On March 6, 2008, Seattle mayor Greg Nickels announced that a local ownership group involving Ballmer made a “game-changing” commitment to invest $150 million in cash toward a proposed $300 million renovation of KeyArena and were ready to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics from the Professional Basketball Club LLC in order to keep the team in Seattle. However, this initiative failed, and the SuperSonics relocated to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where they now play as the Oklahoma City Thunder.
In June 2012, Ballmer was an investor in Chris R. Hansen’s proposal to build a new arena in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle and bring the SuperSonics back to Seattle. On January 9, 2013, Ballmer and Hansen led a group of investors in an attempt to purchase the Sacramento Kings from the Maloof family and relocate them to Seattle for an estimated $650 million. However, this attempt also fell through.
Following the Donald Sterling scandal in May 2014, Ballmer was the highest bidder in an attempt to purchase the Los Angeles Clippers for a reported price of $2 billion, which is the second highest bid for a sports franchise in North American sports history (after the $2.15 billion sale of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012). After a California court confirmed the authority of Shelly Sterling to sell the team, it was officially announced on August 12, 2014, that Ballmer would become the Los Angeles Clippers owner.
On September 25, 2014, Ballmer said he would bar the team from using Apple products such as iPads, and replace them with Microsoft products. It has been reported that he had previously also barred his family from using iPhones.
In March 2020, Ballmer agreed to buy The Forum in Inglewood, California. The purchase would allow him to build the Inglewood Basketball and Entertainment Center in the nearby area since plans for a new Clippers’ arena were opposed by the former owners of The Forum.
Ballmer was the second person after Roberto Goizueta to become a billionaire in U.S. dollars based on stock options received as an employee of a corporation in which he was neither a founder nor a relative of a founder. As of December 11, 2017, his personal wealth is estimated at US$37.1 billion. While CEO of Microsoft in 2009, Ballmer earned a total compensation of $1,276,627, which included a base salary of $665,833, a cash bonus of $600,000, no stock or options, and other compensation of $10,794.