Although there are many businessmen who become rich, there are very few that become as wealthy as businessman and investor Steve Ballmer. With an estimated personal net worth of $45 billion, he is currently ranked as the 18th richest man in the world. So, how did Steve Ballmer achieve a net worth of $45 billion? Ballmer was born in Detroit, Michigan, on March 24, 1956. He grew up in an affluent community and was a good student at school. However, he wasn’t always clear about the professional path he wanted to take, and his college and university days are evidence of this.
He first studied engineering at Lawrence Technological University and then moved to Harvard University, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1977 with a degree in applied mathematics and economics. After graduating, he worked at Proctor & Gamble as an assistant product manager before deciding to study business. He attended Stanford Graduate School of Business but dropped out in 1980.
It was at this point that he joined Microsoft when Bill Gates hired him as the company’s first business manager. Gates offered him an initial salary of $50,000 a year along with some shares in the company. The duo had been classmates at Harvard, and Gates was keen to get Ballmer involved. To persuade Ballmer, Gates offered him between five and 10 percent equity and 10 percent of any profit growth Ballmer generated.
To his parents’ frustration, Ballmer seized the opportunity to work for Gates at Microsoft. His parents didn’t understand computers or software and they wanted him to continue to pursue his MBA. It was a risky move on Ballmer’s part, but one that has paid off in the long-run. In the early days, Ballmer was basically Gates’ assistant and did anything that needed doing. Although there was some accounting in place, Ballmer took on the role of professionalizing the accounting. He also did all the hiring, and this made him the only person responsible for human resources.
Ballmer became indispensable to Gates as he had taken over many of the tasks that Gates was trying to juggle. One of Gates’ biggest weaknesses was his inability to delegate, and this had meant he was trying to achieve everything alone. Once he had hired Steve Ballmer, he had a right-hand man who could share some of the responsibility. Ballmer took his responsibilities seriously right from the start and even played a crucial role when Microsoft was negotiating with IBM during his first year at Microsoft. At that time, IBM were pioneers in computing technology, but their focus was on computers for businesses. They wanted to work with Microsoft to develop computers that were accessible to everyday people.
In the years that followed, Ballmer continued to make significant contributions to Microsoft’s growth, and he worked in several positions in the company with various executive titles. With each role, he was given a very healthy salary and Ballmer was becoming an increasingly rich man. In 1998, Bill Gates finally gave him the position of president of Microsoft. When Gates decided to step down from the position of CEO in 2000, he handed the position to Ballmer. In the years that followed, Ballmer successfully led the company through a combination of challenging times and periods of growth. After 15 years in the role of CEO, Ballmer decided it was time to retire and he left Microsoft in 2015 after working for the company for 35 years.
Despite leaving the company, Ballmer still has financial connections to Microsoft because of his shares. While most people think that Bill Gates owns the most shares in Microsoft, it is actually Ballmer who holds the most shares in the company. Before leaving Microsoft, Ballmer bought the Los Angeles Clippers on August 12, 2014. He paid $2 billion for the team, which is the highest price ever paid for an NBA team. As the owner of this team, he now has something to keep him entertained during his retirement and he is often seen cheering on the Los Angeles Clippers from the sidelines. There have been several rumors about Ballmer considering making further investments in sports teams now that he does not have commitments at Microsoft.
In his personal life, Steve Ballmer has been married to Connie Snyder since 1990 and the couple has three sons together. The family lives in a stunning home in Hunts Point, Washington.