Steve Anthony Ballmer (born March 24, 1956) is an American businessman. He 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 $15 billion.
Steve Ballmer has been known to be very passionate in expressing his enthusiasm. When Microsoft celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2000, Ballmer popped out of the anniversary cake to surprise the audience. His wild screaming and dancing on stage at an employees convention was caught on a widely-circulated video known as "Steve Ballmer going crazy." A few days later at a developers' conference, a sweat-soaked Ballmer repeatedly chanted "developers" at least 14 times in front of the bemused gathering.
On October 4, 2007, Ballmer was awarded honorary citizenship of Lausen
. His father had worked in that country as a manager at Ford Motor Co
in the late 1940s. In 1990 Ballmer married Connie Snyder, on Microsoft's PR team at the Waggener Group in the '80s. They have three children. Ballmer's grandfather lives in Minsk
Pre-Microsoft & Life History
Steve Ballmer was born March 24, 1956, to a Swiss father and a Jewish-American mother whose family came from the Eastern European city of Pinsk
(today in Belarus
). He grew up in Farmington Hills, Michigan
. In 1973, he graduated from Detroit Country Day School
, a high school, and now sits on its board of directors. In 1977, he graduated from Harvard University
with a bachelor’s degree 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
, the current CEO of General Electric
. In 1980, he dropped out from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business
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
which had been instrumental in making early employees millionaires
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 "Dance Monkeyboy." This video features Ballmer sprinting and hopping around while verbally screeching, screaming and making other various high pitched noises and hand gestures on a stage for about 45 seconds after being introduced at a Microsoft employee convention. Another video, captured at a developers' conference, featured a visibly sweat-drenched Ballmer chanting and shouting the word "developers" fourteen times in front of a gathering of Microsoft associates. Another video, which became a "big hit on the web" and was featured on CNN
shows Ballmer ducking behind a desk to evade eggs
during a speech in Budapest
The Wall Street Journal
has reported that there was tension surrounding the 2000 transition of authority from Bill Gates
and Ballmer. Things became so bitter that, on one occasion, Gates stormed out of a meeting in a huff after a shouting match in which Mr. Ballmer jumped to the defense of several colleagues, according to an individual present at the time. After the exchange, Mr. Ballmer seemed "remorseful," the person said.
Once Gates leaves, "I'm not going to need him for anything. That's the principle," Mr. Ballmer said. "Use him, yes, need him, no.
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 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
), Ballmer allegedly said, "Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy. I'm going to fucking bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. 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."
On March 6, 2008 Seattle's Mayor announced that a local ownership group involving Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made a "game changing" commitment to invest $150 million in cash towards 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.
- 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.
- Michael Maccoby qualified him as a "productive obsessive" and the one keeping Microsoft's "show on the road" so Bill Gates could think about the big picture.
- In the webcomic XKCD, the perfect level of intoxication resulting in super-human programming abilities is referred to as the "Ballmer Peak.