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Steven Anthony Ballmer (born Detroit, Michiganmarker March 24, 1956) is an Americanmarker businessman who has been the chief executive officer of Microsoft Corporation since January 2000. Ballmer is 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. In Forbes 2008 World's Richest People ranking, Ballmer was ranked the 43rd richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $11 billion.


Ballmer was born in Detroitmarker as the son of Fritz Hans Ballmer, an immigrant from Switzerland, who had worked in Belgium as a manager at Ford Motor Co in the 1960s. In 1990 Ballmer married Connie Snyder, who was on Microsoft's PR team at the Waggener Group in the '80s. They have three children. Ballmer's maternal grandparents lived in Pinskmarker, Belarusmarker.


Pre-Microsoft & life history

Steve Ballmer was born March 24, 1956, to a Swiss-American father and a Jewish-American mother whose family came from the Eastern European city of Pinskmarker (today in Belarusmarker). He grew up in Farmington Hills, Michiganmarker. In 1973, he graduated from Detroit Country Day Schoolmarker, a high school, and now sits on its board of directors. In 1977, he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Universitymarker
with a B.A. in mathematics and economics. While in college, Ballmer managed the football team, worked on The Harvard Crimson newspaper as well as the Harvard Advocate, and lived down the hall from fellow sophomore Bill Gates. He then worked for two years as an assistant product manager at Procter & Gamble, where he shared an office with Jeffrey R. Immelt, who would later become CEO of General Electric. In 1980, he dropped out from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business to join Microsoft.

Microsoft career

Ballmer joined Microsoft on June 11, 1980 and became Microsoft's 24th employee, the first business manager hired by Gates. He was initially offered a salary of $50,000 as well as a percentage of ownership of the company. When Microsoft was incorporated in 1981, Ballmer owned 8 percent of the company. He has headed several divisions within Microsoft including "Operating Systems Development", "Operations", and "Sales and Support." In January 2000, he was officially named chief executive officer. As CEO Ballmer handled company finances, however Gates still retained control of the "technological vision." In 2003, Ballmer sold 8.3% of his shareholdings, leaving him with a 4% stake in the company. The same year, Ballmer replaced Microsoft's employee stock options program.

In 2009, and for the first time ever, he made the opening keynote at CES, since Bill Gates left Microsoft.


While CEO of Microsoft in 2007, Steven A. Ballmer earned a total compensation of $1,279,821, which included a base salary of $620,000, and a cash bonus of $650,000. In 2008, he earned a total compensation of $1,350,834, which included a base salary of $640,833, a cash bonus of $700,000, no stock or options, and other compensation of $10,001.

Viral videos

Ballmer is known for his eccentric and over-the-top behavior. Footage featuring Ballmer's flamboyant stage appearances at Microsoft events have been widely circulated on the Internet, becoming viral videos. The most famous of these is commonly titled "Steve Ballmer going crazy." This video features Ballmer after being introduced at a Microsoft employee convention. Ballmer is also featured in a 1986 ad for Microsoft Windows 1.0, enthusiastically promoting the operating system's features . Another video, captured at a developers' conference, features a sweat soaked Ballmer repeatedly chanting the word "developers".

On competition

Bill Gates

The Wall Street Journal has reported that there was tension surrounding the 2000 transition of authority from Bill Gates to Ballmer. Things became so bitter that, on one occasion, Gates stormed out of a meeting in a huff after a shouting match in which Ballmer jumped to the defense of several colleagues, according to an individual present at the time. After the exchange, Ballmer seemed "remorseful," the person said.

Once Gates leaves, "I'm not going to need him for anything. That's the principle," Ballmer said. "Use him, yes, need him, no."

Free and open source software

He has referred to the free Linux operating system as a "[…] cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches." Ballmer used the notion of "viral" licensing terms to express his concern over the fact that the GNU General Public License (GPL) license employed by such software requires that all derivative software be under the GPL or a compatible license.


In 2005, Mark Lucovsky alleged in a sworn statement to a Washington state court that Ballmer became highly enraged upon hearing that Lucovsky was about to leave Microsoft for Google, picked up his chair, and threw it across his office. Referring to Google CEO Eric Schmidt (who previously worked for competitors Sun and Novell), Ballmer allegedly said, "I'm going to fucking kill Google," then resumed trying to persuade Lucovsky to stay at Microsoft. Ballmer has described the incident as a "gross exaggeration of what actually took place."


Speaking at a conference in NYC, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer criticised Apple's pricing, saying; 'Now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction (against Applemarker),' Ballmer said. 'The economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment — same piece of hardware — paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be.'


On March 6, 2008 Seattle's Mayor announced that a local ownership group involving Ballmer made a "game changing" commitment to invest $150 million in cash toward a $300 million renovation of Key Arena and are ready to purchase the Seattle SuperSonics in order to keep them in the City of Seattle. Ballmer would join fellow Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen (owner of the Portland Trail Blazers) as an NBA owner.

However, this failed, since the Sonics have now relocated to Oklahoma Citymarker.

Media portrayals

  • Bad Boy Ballmer: The Man Who Rules Microsoft (2002), Fredric Alan Maxwell, ISBN 0-06-621014-3 (unauthorized biography)
  • The 1999 docudrama Pirates of Silicon Valley features Ballmer as a major character; he is played by actor John DiMaggio.


External links

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