What is Steve Ballmer’s Net Worth and Salary?

Steve Ballmer is an American businessman and sports team owner who has a net worth of $140 billion. The vast majority of Steve Ballmer’s net worth is derived from his 333.3 million shares of Microsoft stock. That is roughly 4% of the total outstanding shares and today Steve is actually the company’s largest individual shareholder. Today Bill Gates owns roughly 1.3% of Microsoft.

When Microsoft went public in 1986, Steve Ballmer owned 8% of the company, Paul Allen 25% and Bill Gates 45%.

Starting in 2024 Microsoft will pay a dividend of $3 per share. That equates to an annual dividend payment of $1 billion for Mr. Ballmer. Over the years he has earned $13 billion through stock sales and dividends.

Despite being a multi-multi-billionaire, Ballmer still drives a Ford in honor of his father who was a Ford manager.

Steve Ballmer met Bill Gates at Harvard University in the 1970s when they were both undergraduate students. Ballmer was a year ahead of Gates. They lived down the hall from each other in the same dormitory and quickly formed a friendship over their shared interests in mathematics and computing. Ballmer was studying mathematics and economics, while Gates was enrolled in the pre-law program but was more interested in computer programming.

Their paths diverged temporarily when Gates dropped out of Harvard to co-found Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1975. Ballmer continued his studies, graduating from Harvard and then working for Procter & Gamble and attending Stanford Graduate School of Business. However, their connection remained strong, and in 1980, Gates convinced Ballmer to join Microsoft. Ballmer became the company’s 30th employee and the first business manager hired by Gates. This decision marked the beginning of Ballmer’s long and influential career at Microsoft, where he would eventually become CEO in 2000, continuing to work closely with Gates until Gates stepped down from his day-to-day role in 2008. As CEO he earned a base salary of $1.35 million. In August 2013, Ballmer announced that he would be retiring as CEO within 12 months. On February 4, 2014, Ballmer was replaced by Satya Nadella.

Ballmer is also known for owning the Los Angeles Clippers. He bought the time in May 2014 for $2 billion from disgraced owner Donald Sterling who had recently become embroiled in a racism scandal. Today the Clippers are worth $4 billion.

Early Life

Steven Anthony Ballmer was born on March 24th of 1956 in Detroit, Michigan. His father, Frederic Henry Ballmer, served as manager for the Ford Motor Company. To honor his father, Ballmer reportedly still drives a Ford to this day. Although he was initially raised in the affluent community of Farmington Hills, Steve Ballmer lived in Brussels from 1964 to 1967 and attended the International School of Brussels.

After focusing heavily on engineering and math at Lawrence Technical University and Detroit Country Day School, Ballmer attended Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1977 with a Bachelor of Arts in applied mathematics and economics. During his college years, Ballmer managed the football team and contributed to the college’s various newspapers. He also met fellow student Bill Gates.

Over the next period, Ballmer worked as an assistant product manager for Procter & Gamble. Unsatisfied with the corporate lifestyle, Ballmer tried to have two screenplays produced in Hollywood. By 1980, he was attending the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Career with Microsoft

In 1980, Bill Gates convinced Ballmer to drop out of Stanford and become Microsoft’s first-ever business manager. Over the next twenty years, Gates and Ballmer established a strong connection with one another – both on a personal and professional level. He was in charge of many Microsoft divisions, such as sales and the .NET framework.

In 2000, the balance of power transitioned from Gates to Ballmer, and he became the company’s new CEO. That being said, Gates still served as chairman of the board and guided the overall vision of Microsoft. Almost inevitably, genuine tensions began to arise between the pair for the first time. Ballmer’s approach to managing Microsoft has led to mixed reviews. While it’s true that he tripled sales and doubled profits, the company’s share value stagnated. In addition, many observers have argued that Ballmer missed out on big trends.

Of course, Ballmer did lead Microsoft into new territory, creating the Xbox division and helping popularize Skype. Still, Ballmer failed to capitalize on the smartphone trend, famously dismissing Apple’s iPhone as a waste of time. He also lost billions in ill-advised acquisitions, such as Nokia, and failed products such as the Surface. After being named the worst CEO by several publications, Steve Ballmer began to feel the pressure. In 2013, he finally retired from Microsoft.

Steve Ballmer Net Worth Milestones

  • 1986 (IPO Day) – $85 million
  • 1987 – $270 million
  • 1995 -$2 billion
  • 1997 – $6 billion
  • 1999 – $13 billion
  • 2008 – $10 billion
  • 2014 – $24 billion
  • 2017 – $33 billion
  • 2018 – $42 billion
  • 2019 – $45 billion
  • 2020 – $77 billion
  • 2021 – $101 billion
  • 2022 – $88 billion
  • 2023 – $130 billion
  • 2024 – $140 billion

Acquisition of the LA Clippers

Ballmer had ostensibly been interested in buying a basketball team since 2008, when he was part of a group that tried (unsuccessfully) to acquire the Seattle Sonics. In 2012, he also tried to buy the Sacramento Kings. However, Ballmer would finally get the opportunity he’d been waiting for in 2014 when Clippers owner Donald Sterling was given a lifetime ban from the NBA following racist comments.

Sterling’s wife pushed to have the LA Clippers sold, and Ballmer stepped in with an offer of $2 billion. The offer was accepted soon thereafter, and Ballmer became the new owner of the Clippers.

Microsoft Stock

The vast majority of Steve Ballmer’s net worth is derived from his 333.3 million shares of Microsoft stock. Over the years he has sold $3.4 billion worth of stock and collected roughly $5.5 billion from dividends. Today Steve receives $1 billion per year in dividend payments thanks to Microsoft’s $3 annual dividend.

In 1980, Bill Gates hired him to be Microsoft’s Business Manager and offered him a compensation package that included an annual salary of $50,000 – plus an 8% ownership stake in the company. The company incorporated one year later in 1981, and Ballmer’s stock skyrocketed in value. As a result, Steve Ballmer became only the second person to ever up to that point become a billionaire based on stock options for a company that he didn’t create himself.


During his tenure as CEO of Microsoft, Ballmer earned a total salary of approximately $1.275 million. This included a base salary of about $666,000, a cash bonus of $600,000, and miscellaneous compensation of about $11,000.

Real Estate

In 2020, reports stated Ballmer had purchased a property in Hunts Point, Washington for $9.8 million. The historic home was built in 1902 and features 3,790 square feet of living space and roughly one acre of land. This wasn’t the first time Steve Ballmer had acquired real estate in the Seattle area. In 1987, he and his wife Connie purchased another home nearby for $1.325 million. Since then, the property has skyrocketed in value, and in 2020 it had reached a reported value of over $12 million.

In 2020, Ballmer also purchased the Forum in Inglewood for $400 million. The Forum was previously the home of the LA Lakers, although they later moved to the Staples Center. The Clippers are also currently playing their games at the Staples Center, but they will have the chance to return to their own venue after Ballmer redevelops the Forum.

Ballmer’s acquisition was a strategic one, as James Dolan (another NBA team owner) had been preventing Ballmer from constructing a separate arena nearby. Dolan’s company, MSG, purchased the Forum in 2012 for $23.5 million. After Ballmer successfully bought out Dolan’s interest in the Forum, he paved the way for a brand new, 18,000-seat stadium with all the latest features. Some estimate that this new stadium could cost over $1 billion to construct, and it is scheduled for completion in 2024.

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Kay Adams