Steve Ballmer’s Wealth Surpasses Bill Gates’, Becomes Sixth Richest in the World

Steve Ballme and Bill Gates 768x448 1
Steve Ballme and Bill Gates 768x448 1

Steve Ballmer, once an assistant to Bill Gates at Microsoft, has now outpaced his former boss in terms of wealth. Despite starting without a single share in the company, Ballmer’s Microsoft holdings have surged, making him the sixth richest person globally with a net worth of $157 billion. This surpasses well-known tech magnates such as Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and Dell Technologies’ Michael Dell.

This marks the first time Ballmer’s wealth has exceeded Gates’, a rare instance where an employee has become richer than a company’s founder. Ballmer is unique as the only individual with a net worth exceeding $100 billion who accrued his fortune as an employee rather than a founder, as noted by Fortune.

Ballmer’s wealth increase is largely attributed to a rise in Microsoft’s share prices, which reached an all-time high recently, having increased by 22% since January. His Microsoft shares constitute about 90% of his net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Microsoft’s substantial investment in OpenAI, valued at $10 billion, has significantly benefited from the AI boom driving market growth.

When Ballmer left Microsoft in 2014, he retained a 4% stake valued at $22.5 billion. He expressed his intention to hold onto his Microsoft shares indefinitely, either for charity or until his death.

Conversely, Bill Gates has diversified his investments beyond Microsoft, with half of his portfolio managed through Cascade Investment, a private investment firm. Gates has substantial stakes in companies such as Republic Services, a waste management firm, valued at $21 billion.

Gates’ philanthropic efforts also play a role in the difference in their net worth. By 2023, Gates and his ex-wife Melinda French Gates had donated $59.5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, making it one of the largest charitable foundations globally. In 2010, Gates co-created the Giving Pledge with Melinda and Warren Buffett, committing to give away most of his wealth during his lifetime.

Ballmer’s journey at Microsoft began in 1980 as the 30th employee, with no shares initially. After dropping out of Stanford Business School, he worked as a business manager, effectively serving as a personal assistant to Gates. Due to Microsoft’s rapid growth, Gates and co-founder Paul Allen offered Ballmer a 10% share of profit growth in addition to his $50,000 annual salary. This arrangement was pivotal for Ballmer’s future wealth. As Microsoft expanded, Ballmer’s profit-sharing deal was restructured, granting him an 8% stake in the company, while Gates and Allen retained 84%, and another 8% was allocated to other employees.

Despite Gates initially supporting Ballmer’s stake, the two have drifted apart over the years. Ballmer acknowledged in a 2016 Bloomberg Television interview that their close bond was primarily tied to their work at Microsoft and had waned since his departure from the company.

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