Steven Anthony "Steve" Ballmer is an American businessman who served as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Microsoft from January 2000 to February 2014. Prior to becoming the CEO he held a number of high profile positions at Microsoft, heading several departments including operations, operating systems development, and sales and support. He had also served as the Executive Vice President, Sales and Support, and President of Microsoft. As a college friend of Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, Ballmer was one of the early employees of the company. In fact, he was the first business manager hired by Gates. Born into an affluent family, Steve Ballmer grew up to be an exceptionally brilliant student with extraordinary skills in mathematics. He graduated from Harvard College and worked for a while at Procter & Gamble before joining the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He then dropped out in order to take up a position at his friend Bill Gates’ new venture and went on to enjoy phenomenal success at Microsoft. Retired from Microsoft following an illustrious career, Ballmer now focuses on another one of his passions—basketball—and is currently the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers of the National Basketball Association (NBA).
Childhood & Early Life
Steve Ballmer was born on March 24, 1956, in Detroit, to Beatrice Dworkin and Frederic Henry Ballmer. He has a sister, Shelly. His father was a manager at the Ford Motor Company and his family was an affluent one. Ballmer is of Swiss and Jewish ethnicity.
He attended the Detroit Country Day School on a scholarship and graduated with a perfect score of 800 on the mathematical section of the SAT. Then he enrolled at Harvard College from where he graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in applied mathematics and economics, in 1977. While studying there he became friends with Bill Gates, a fellow student.
Ballmer loved sports and was a manager for the Harvard Crimson football team. He also worked on The Harvard Crimson newspaper as well as the Harvard Advocate.
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After completing his education he joined Procter & Gamble as an assistant product manager, a post he held for two years. Then he joined the Stanford Graduate School of Business in 1979.
Ballmer’s college friend Bill Gates had dropped out of school to co-found Microsoft. After completing his first year at the business school, Ballmer approached his friend hoping for a summer job at his company. Gates instead asked Ballmer to take a full-time job managing the company's operations.
In 1980, Ballmer left the Stanford Graduate School of Business and joined Microsoft in June, becoming the first business manager to be hired by Gates. One of his earliest roles was to recruit competent employees for the growing firm. Despite not being a programmer himself, Ballmer possessed the knack to identify potential talent.
Soon after, Microsoft signed a contract to create an operating system for IBM’s new line of personal computers. The co-founders of the company, Gates and his partner Paul Allen, busied themselves with the technical aspects of the company while Ballmer was assigned the responsibility of handling the business.
Ballmer reorganized Microsoft’s partnership into a corporate structure in 1981 after the company was incorporated. Accordingly, Gates came to hold 53 percent of the equity, Allen 35 percent, and Ballmer 8 percent. He also developed a stock option plan for the employees.
During the early 1980s Allen became ill with cancer and left the company in 1983. Now it was just Gates and Ballmer in charge of the corporation. Ballmer led the development of the operating system, the core of the company’s business, in the 1980s.
The year 1986 marked an important point in Ballmer’s career. Microsoft became a publically held company and Ballmer became a multimillionaire. The success of the company was primarily driven by the success of the Microsoft Office suite of applications, comprising word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
Over the next several years he held many important positions in the company and in February 1992, he was made the Executive Vice President, Sales and Support. In this position he led the development of the .NET Framework.
In July 1998 he was promoted to President of Microsoft, a position he held till February 2001. Ballmer was officially named the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in January 2000.
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As the CEO Ballmer handled the company finances and daily operations. Under his leadership, Microsoft diversified its product range to include products such as electronic game console system Xbox and the Zune family of portable media players.
Microsoft registered a phenomenal increase in profits during Ballmer’s tenure as CEO. The corporation’s annual revenue surged from $25 billion to $70 billion, while its net income increased 215 percent to $23 billion.
Ballmer announced his retirement in 2013 and stepped down from the position of CEO of Microsoft in February 2014. He stepped down from the company Board of Directors in August 2014.
Awards & Achievements
Steve Ballmer was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor in Paris by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Connie Snyder in 1990. They have three sons.
Both Ballmer and his wife are active on the philanthropic front and were reported to have donated $50 million to the University of Oregon in 2014.
Steve Ballmer has a net worth of $22.2 billion.
In 1994, Ballmer and Bill Gates jointly donated $10 million to Harvard University's computer science department.
In 2014, Ballmer again donated money to Harvard University's computer science department to enable it to hire new faculty.
In 2014, Ballmer donated $50 million to the University of Oregon for the purpose of scholarships, public health research and advocacy, and external branding/communications.