The Journey of Steve Ballmer

  • lauren DeAlmeida
  • June 9, 2021
  • 0
Steve Ballmer

Image Courtesy of Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

Steven Anthony Ballmer, mostly known as Steve Ballmer was born on the 24th of March 1956. His birthplace was Detriot, Michigan, United States. Steve Ballmer is an American businessman and investor. He is the son of Frederic Henry Ballmer (Fritz Hans Ballmer). Frederic was a Swiss immigrant. In fact, Frederic Henry was a manager at the Ford Motor Company. In 1990, Ballmer married Connie Snyder.

Ballmer’s education

Steve Ballmer attended college prep and engineering classes at Lawrence Technological University in 1973. Furthermore, Steve graduated as valedictorian from Detroit Country Day School. Detroit Country Day School is a private college preparatory school in Beverly Hills, Michigan. Moreover, Steve scored 800 on the SAT mathematical section. He was a National Merit Scholar.

Later on, in 1997, Steve graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. At Harvard, he was a manager for the Harvard Crimson football team. He also worked on The Harvard Crimson newspaper as well as the Harvard Advocate.

He attained his degree on Bachelor of Arts in applied mathematics and economics. After that, Steve worked for two years at the consumer products company Procter & Gamble. He worked as a product manager. At Procter & Gamble, he shared an office with Jeff Immelt. Then, he attended the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

In 1980 he left school. Steve became a business manager for Bill Gates on the 11 of June 1980. Actually, Bill and he were friends since Harvard.

Steve Ballmer at Microsoft

Steve was actually Microsoft’s 30th employee. He was the first business manager hired by Gates. At that time, Steve Ballmer was offered a salary of $50,000. Furthermore, he owned 5-10% of the company. When Microsoft was incorporated in 1981, Ballmer owned 8% of the company. Microsoft became a publicly held company in 1986, making Ballmer a multimillionaire before he turned 30. After almost 20 years, Steve Ballmer held various posts as Microsoft grew into one of the most powerful and profitable companies in American history.

In July 1998 he was promoted to President of Microsoft, a position he held till February 2001. Ballmer was officially named the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in January 2000.

Steve as the CEO of Microsoft

Ballmer was officially named the chief executive officer on the 13th of January 2000. As a fun fact, Steve’s entrance on stage at Microsoft’s 25th-anniversary event in September 2000 was famous. He jumped across the stage and shouted “I love this company!”.

Actually, he handled company finances and daily operations. On the other hand, Bill Gates remained chairman of the board. Gates controlled the technological innovation side of the company as a chief software architect. Under Steve’s leadership, Microsoft diversified its product range to include products such as the electronic game console system Xbox and the Zune family of portable media players.

When Steve Ballmer was the CEO, Microsoft was fighting an antitrust lawsuit brought on by the United States government.

 “Being the object of a lawsuit, effectively, or a complaint from your government is a very awkward, uncomfortable position to be in. It just has all downside. People assume if the government brought a complaint that there’s really a problem, and your ability to say we’re a good, proper, moral place is tough. It’s actually tough, even though you feel that way about yourselves,” Steve Ballmer said.

Ballmer sold 39.3 million Microsoft shares equating to approximately $955 million in 2003. Therefore, his shares reduced by 4%. By 2004 Microsoft Office had achieved a 90 percent market share.

Steve Ballmer collected details in order to justify and approve new products. Furthermore, in 2005, he recruited B.Kevin Turner from Walmart. At that time Kevin Turner was the President and CEO of Sam’s Club. Ballmer made became the Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft. Kevin Turner was hired at Microsoft to lead the company’s sales, marketing, and services group and to instill more process and discipline in the company’s operations and salesforce.

In 2007, Steve Ballmer stated that there is no chance that Apple.Inc is going to get a significant market share. “No chance,” he said.

Steve spoke at a conference in New York in 2009. Ballmer criticized Apple’s pricing, saying:

“Now I think the tide has turned back the other direction (against Apple). 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.”

Kevin Turner was Microsoft’s chief operating officer since 2011.

Microsoft’s share prices lowered under Steve Ballmer’s tenure as Chief Executive Officer. Moreover, the company’s annual revenue surged from $25 billion to $70 billion. The net income increased 215% to $23 billion. On the other hand, the gross profit of 75 cents on every dollar in sales doubled that of IBM and Google.

During his tenure at Microsoft, Ballmer’s total annual profit grew at a robust rate of 16%. He became the second-highest-earning CEO in the US behind General Electric’s Jack Welch. Despite the increasing competition from open-source software, Microsoft still maintained its profitability.

He also built half a dozen new divisions, many of which were focused on data centers and the Xbox gaming console. He oversaw the acquisition of Skype, which helped prevent the Sony PlayStation from undermining Windows.

Steve Ballmer built Microsoft’s $20 billion Enterprise Business unit, which includes new products and services such as Windows Server, SQL Server, and System Center.

This diversified product mix helped Microsoft offset the company’s dependence on PCs and mobile devices as they transition to a post-PC era began.

Ballmer was criticized for failing to capitalize on the new technologies that emerged during the past couple of years.

During Ballmer’s time at Microsoft, the company tried to capitalize on the tech industry’s rapid growth. It often killed promising projects simply because they threatened its cash cows.

In a May 2012 column, Adam Hartung described Steve Ballmer as the worst CEO of a large publicly traded American company. He said he had steered Microsoft away from some of the fastest-growing tech markets.

In June 2012, Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer unveiled the company’s first-ever tablet device, the Microsoft Surface.

Ballmer was once again named as one of the worst CEOs in 2013. He was also criticized by the BBC. In August 2013, Microsoft announced that Steve Ballmer would step down as its CEO in 12 months. Bill Gates would then be the new CEO. In September 2013, he announced the acquisition of Nokia’s mobile phone division.

Ballmer steps back

Ballmer announced his retirement in 2013. After losing billions of dollars and as Microsoft’s stock price rebounded on the news, he decided to step back.

 He stepped down from the company Board of Directors in August 2014.

On November 12, 2014, it was announced that Ballmer and his wife Connie donated $50 million to the University of Oregon. Connie Ballmer is a University of Oregon alumna and serves on the institution’s board of trustees. The funds will go towards the university’s $2 billion fundraising effort and will focus on scholarships, public health research and advocacy, and external branding/communications.

Moreover, during the same year, it was announced that Ballmer would provide a gift, estimated at $60 million, to Harvard University’s computer science department. The gift would allow the department to hire new faculty, and hopefully increase the national stature of the program.

Read more on: The Journey of the English Business Magnate – Sir Richard Branson

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