Learn more about Steve Ballmer
|Born:|| March 24, 1956|
|Occupation:||Chief executive officer or CEO|
Steven Anthony Ballmer (born March 24, 1956 in Detroit, Michigan) is an American businessman and has been the chief executive officer of Microsoft Corporation since January 2000. Ballmer is the first person 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 its 2006 "World's Richest People" ranking, Forbes magazine ranked Ballmer as the 24th richest person in the world, with an estimated wealth of $13.6 billion.
 Early life and education
Ballmer was born in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Frederick Ballmer, was a Swiss immigrant, and his mother was Beatrice Dworkin Ballmer. Ballmer grew up with his younger sister in Farmington Hills near Detroit, where his father worked as a manager at Ford Motor Company.
During his studies at the Detroit Country Day School, Ballmer was the manager of the school's basketball team. In 1973, he graduated from school with a grade point average of 4.0 and was the valedictorian of his class. He scored a perfect 800 on the math SAT and competed in math tournaments. Ballmer won a scholarship to Harvard College. During his freshman year he developed a close friendship with his dormmate, Bill Gates, a friendship that continued even after Gates dropped out of Harvard to start his own software company, Microsoft. At Harvard, Ballmer was the advertising manager for both The Harvard Crimson and The Harvard Advocate. He graduated magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in applied mathematics and economics in 1977.
After graduation, Ballmer worked for two years at Procter & Gamble as an assistant product manager before joining Stanford Graduate School of Business to get a Master of Business Administration degree. He dropped out of Stanford a year later when Gates persuaded him to work at Microsoft. Ballmer became Microsoft's 24th employee on June 11 1980, 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% of the company.
Ballmer has headed several divisions within Microsoft, including Operating Systems Development, Operations, and Sales and Support. In July 1998, he was promoted to president, and on January 13 2000, he was named chief executive officer when Gates stepped down from that position.
While Gates retains control of technological vision, Ballmer handles company finances. 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, which had been instrumental in making early employees millionaires, with a stock grant program.<ref>Fried, Ina. "Microsoft to award stock, nix options", CNET News.com, 2003-07-08. Retrieved on 2006-12-03.</ref>
Ballmer is currently the longest-serving employee of Microsoft after Gates. Ballmer married Connie Snyder (a Microsoft employee) and has three children. He is the uncle of former major league baseball player Ben Petrick.
 Public Persona
Ballmer's tendency to loudly and enthusiastically express himself is well known. A famous 1991 incident left his vocal cords requiring surgical repair after he screamed "Windows, Windows, Windows" continuously during a meeting in Japan.<ref>The Richest Of The Rich by Davide Dukcevich, Forbes.com, December 12th 2001</ref> With the advent of Internet video, such incidents have become increasingly infamous.
 Viral Videos
Footage featuring Ballmer during on-stage appearances at Microsoft events have been widely circulated on the internet, becoming what are known as "viral videos". The most famous of these is commonly titled "Dance Monkeyboy", and features Ballmer dancing around and screaming on a stage for about 45 seconds after being introduced at an employee convention. More video, captured at a developers' conference just days later, featured a sweat-soaked Ballmer chanting the word "developers", at least 13½ times, in front of the bemused gathering. (video)
 On Competition
Ballmer is also known as a vocal critic of competing companies and their products. In 2004, he made headlines by claiming that the most common format of music on iPods is "stolen"<ref>iPod users are music thieves says Ballmer by Andy McCue, silicon.com, October 4th 2004</ref>. In an interview with Fortune magazine (March 29, 2006),<ref>The sleeping giant goes on the offensive by Telis Demos, FORTUNE Magazine, March 29th 2006</ref> when asked if he used an iPod, he said, "No, I do not. Nor do my children. My children--in many dimensions they're as poorly behaved as many other children, but at least on this dimension I've got my kids brainwashed: You don't use Google, and you don't use an iPod."
According to one former employee's headline-grabbing allegations, this competitive nature has manifested itself more violently. In 2005, Mark Lucovsky claimed that Ballmer became highly enraged upon hearing that Lucovsky was about to leave Microsoft for Google. In the account, Ballmer threw a chair across the room and shouted: "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." Shortly after, he resumed trying to persuade Lucovsky to stay at Microsoft. Ballmer has described Lucovsky's account of the incident as a "gross exaggeration of what actually took place."<ref>Microsoft CEO: 'I'm going to f---ing kill Google' in The Sydney Morning Herald, September 3rd 2005</ref>
- 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 Di Maggio.
 External links
- Corporate biography
- Forbes World's Richest People listing
- South China Morning Post audio interview
- "Monkey Boy" video
- "Advertisers, advertisers, advertisers" video
- Steve Ballmer in a self-parody "ad" for Windows 1.0
- Part of Business 2.0's List of "10 people who don't matter"
Key figures of Microsoft history
|Bill Gates - Steve Ballmer - James Allchin - Paul Allen|