back to article BILLION DOLLAR BALLMER: Microsoft chief makes $1bn simply by quitting

Steve Ballmer has just seen his personal wealth surge by a cool $1bn after announcing his retirement from Microsoft - which immediately caused the company's stock to soar close to a 12-month high on Wall Street. The software vendor, which trades on Nasdaq under the MSFT banner, saw its shares initially surge by close to 9 per …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "As of March 2013, Forbes said that Ballmer was worth more than $15bn - slapping the billionaire right in the middle of its top 100 list of stupidly rich people. "

    In Mr. Ballmers case the 'ly' on the end of stupidly is optional.

    1. JDX Gold badge

      Clearly he rose from one of the original members of the company when tiny to running it when gigantic by being stupid.

      I very much doubt he is stupid. Out of touch, yes. Eccentric and with poor social skills, yes. Stupid... no.

      1. asdf

        Dumb Luck

        Yes just because you pull the luckiest dorm room assignment in history and bunk up with Bill G at Stanford doesn't mean riding his coat tails to mega riches is easy. You can't be dumb really but being an unimaginative sweaty cheerleader does help until you are required to steer the company of course.

        1. O RLY

          Re: Dumb Luck

          Harvard, not Stanford

      2. asdf

        > original members of the company when tiny to running it when gigantic by being stupid.

        Only because of Bill Gates which is why Ballmer wasn't shit canned years ago. Bill doesn't have a lot of friends before he was rich so I am sure he is loyal. I am no fan of Billy G but he has done a whole lot more in in his life than the placeholder that is Ballmer.

        1. Don Jefe

          Steve Ballmer is an excellent salesperson and he's rather intelligent and very nice in person. Where he isn't very strong is in identifying need and product positioning: he's fairly easily convinced something is a good idea and once he's convinced something is a good idea he'll ram it down everyone's throats, whether its actually a good idea or not. He doesn't listen I dissenting voices much. That can be useful and it can be a hiderance, for him I believe it's hurt more than helped.

          This is good, it was time for him to move on. But it is wrong to think the man is a fool or a toady because of some poor products. He's not dumb, he's just wrong (quite a bit).

          1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

            "he's fairly easily convinced something is a good idea and once he's convinced something is a good idea he'll ram it down everyone's throats"

            This means that the technical direction at Microsoft can be controlled by a few people working behind the scenes who have Steve's ear. Rather than leading a competent technical group to a consensus on what should be done, just grab him, point him in your preferred direction and he bulldozes over everyone else.

            In my opinion, this isn't a good way to run a high tech company. When you hope to be out on the bleeding edge (where Microsoft isn't more often then not), you have to get the input of numerous field specialists. And these sorts of people are put off quite easily by the monkey boy, chair throwing antics. So the question is: Will the people behind the curtain, pulling Ballmer's chain allow a consensus builder into his position? Or will they pull for another version of him, just to protect their turf?

      3. JLV


        This is great news, Ballmer leaving. The investors seem to think so.

        One way or another this dude rubbed me the wrong way. From chair throwing to Linux cancers to Metro to Office ribbons.

        He's an *ss, far as I am concerned.

        But regardless of what we think of him, he's NOT stupid in the basic IQ definition sense of it. His wikipedia entry states a 800 on Math SAT. i.e. 100%, no error. Not godlike, but impressive by any standards. And magna cum laude Harvard Math + Economics.

        Good riddance.

      4. Luke 11


        Spot on mate!

    2. SkippyBing

      In Mr. Ballmers case the 'ly' on the end of stupidly is optional

      The question being, if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?

      1. hammarbtyp

        Re: In Mr. Ballmers case the 'ly' on the end of stupidly is optional

        There is also the matter of luck....

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never really understood why someone who was proving to be a failure didn't decide to go earlier.

    I can only assume he enjoys the power.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      People - in general - enjoy the paycheck and benefits (which may include power).

  3. Paul Shirley


    Only 12 months till Microsoft can start digging themselves out of the shit.

    Leave sooner Steve, there's another $bil in it for you...

    1. chr0m4t1c

      Re: WOW!

      They sold all the shovels to boost quarterly performance and please the shareholders.

  4. Maharg

    Getting that much money for quitting/getting sacked?

    Who does he think he is, a Chelsea manager?

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Anonymous Custard


    He may have $15bn in the bank, but I wouldn't say he's worth that much given his track record...

    1. h3

      Re: Worth?

      I would say he actually is worth exactly that.

      (Other people think things are worth stuff that have no relation to actual assets / cash).

  7. John Latham

    Ballmer at Microsoft: an annotated shareprice

  8. Whitter

    The market gives a clear comment on his abilities

    A big ego-knock, but I guess $1 billion makes it a tad less difficult to swallow...

    1. JLV

      Re: The market gives a clear comment on his abilities

      You know, I am wondering about that. He'll have made a $1B extra when he sells them, not before. For now, it's unrealized gains, not money in the pocket.

      As an 'employee with access to material information' or whatever the term is for employees with access to insider info, he will be restricted to sell and buy shares at only certain open periods.

      So, for example, a CEO can't buy/sell right before quarter results are announced. That's insider trading.

      Did he resign during an open trading period? Will his resignation have triggered an "insider knowledge event" that would have precluded him from trading? Disclaimer: I have no idea if there is such a concept or if it applies to this type of event.

      Heck, even if fully legal, would he have anticipated such a valuation jump and planned ahead to benefit from it, if that planning was required? As in "I suck so much that the stock is bound to go up so I'll go long"? Requires a lot of self-awareness, that. ;-)

      1. hammarbtyp

        Re: The market gives a clear comment on his abilities

        No CEO buy or sell there shares anymore. They just borrow huge amounts of money using their shares as capital at preferential interest rates.

        On that basis Ballmer has a 1 beeelion more capital to buy that new yacht, airplane, small country he always wanted

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    > which immediately caused the company's stock to soar close to a 12-month high on Wall Street.

    That must be a big blow for the ego.

    It's like leaving a party and everyone saying, "Thank f*ck for that".

  10. Simon Harris

    How about...

    If a company's share price surges on the announcement of someone's resignation, that person's shares should be forfeit for being such a negative influence on the company.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about...

      How about...

      grow up.

      1. John Bailey

        Re: How about...

        No. And you're not the boss of me.

        1. Shades

          Re: How about...

          Just great... thanks for putting the theme tune to Malcolm in the Middle in my head!

          1. Snow Hill Island

            Re: How about...

            Hmmmm.... On the same lines as "You're not the Boss of Me", how about:-

            "Someone keeps moving my chair"

            or better still:-

            "Don't Lets Start".

            Argh.... the earworms have got me!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How about...

        A company I worked for that allocated shares as incentives and rewards did have quite a comprehensive section in the company share agreement about whether those shares would be forfeited or distributed depending on the conditions under which an employee left - probably most companies do.

        Sadly the company went tits-up before they could honour my shares!

  11. Bob Vistakin

    2013: Microsofts year of hell

    But only for its users and shareholders.

  12. James Gosling

    Best money they have ever spent!

    Good riddens to the slimey salesman stroke yobbo! He is a disgrace! Just goes to show you that lacking any ability or redeeming qualities is no barrier to becoming extremely rich!

  13. Vociferous


    Then again, the shenanigans of the Very Rich usually are.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a kick in the teeth!

    Still, I suppose he'll be pleased about the money, and he never bothered before about the world's opinion of him, so I don't suppose he'll cry now.

    With that much money, I don't suppose I would either.

    Now, without being spurred on by Gates or held back by Balllmer, we'll get to see what Microsoft is made of.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What a kick in the teeth!

      Makes for one hell of an exit interview though !!!

  15. silent_count

    Give the guy a break.

    He did provide us with two very entertaining videos: "Developers! Developers! Developers!" and "Monkeydance". This puts him two ahead of, for example, Bill Gates or Larry Page or Steve Jobs, or every reality TV /find-a-star show ever.

    Is his work worth the obscene pile of cah he'll wind up with? Well, in all honesty, probably not but it is notoriously hard to put a price tag on such high quality entertainment.

    1. Nuke

      @Silent_count - Re: Give the guy a break.

      Wrote :- He did provide us with two very entertaining videos

      At least three actually :-

    2. Captain DaFt

      Re: Give the guy a break.

      Ach! Now you've put the thought in my head that he could be the next Ed McMahon!

      Here, have it back!

    3. Paul Shirley

      Re: Give the guy a break.

      He did do us the massive favour of easing Sinovsky out before freeing up the job. If you think it's been bad with monkey boy in charge, Ballmer is just ramming bad product down throats, Sinovsky actually believes there's nothing wrong with it.

    4. silent_count

      Re: Give the guy a break.

      @Nuke: I stand corrected. The man's comic genius knows no bounds. It really is too bad that they made him the CEO rather than just giving him a department, with very little oversight, so he could let his creativity run wild.

      @Paul Shirley: I do have a little sympathy for Steve Sinofsky. I honestly believe he was one of the few who at least tried to help MS make better products. Apart from a few, admittedly substantial, screw-ups with the UI, Win8 is a solid OS, as was/is Win7.

      As for the UI changes, which many (me included) think are dumb, there's still no start menu and you still needlessly have to put up with metro on a desktop pc. Sinofsky would rightly get the blame for having made the initial changes but the man is gone and it's not like anyone at MS has since said that these ideas were dumb so let's revert them. The brains trust at MS must presumably think these changes are a good idea otherwise they'd have been fixed the day after Sinofsky left.

  16. Michael Habel

    Hopefully whoever gets to be in charge of MicroSoft next, they'll get to work expediting Windows 9 and bring back some lost sanity, form Windows Hate. I doubt much will change on the Office front. I'd be surprised if we ever see another Boxed Copy of Office again.

    But, really even post Ballmer... Can we really expect things to get better at MicroSoft?

    It seems to me that they had already crossed every line. Save making Windows itself a virtual Service, al-la Office365. And, I'm sure Steve is still kicking himself over that oversight too...

  17. asdf

    Don't cheer yet

    With Ballmer decimating the executive ranks just bringing in a new CEO won't be enough. He will need to bring a new team with him. With the encouraged infighting and Ballmer running off any executive with any ambition or vision (not talking about Steve S.) Microsoft is going to need a lot of new blood to turn things around.

    1. Robert Moore

      Re: Don't cheer yet

      I am praying that they bring in Carly Fiorina. After the job she did at HP, I would love to see what she coul do to Microsoft. :)

      I am not a religious person, but if they brought her in I would have to reconsider. :)

      1. JeffyPoooh

        Re: Don't cheer yet

        Fiorina? Are you friggen serious? I'd have to extend my HP procurement ban (due solely to her) to include MS.

        Hmmm... Come to think of it, we've not bought much from MS lately (other than XBox) due to our existing Win8 procurement ban.

        Can we find some CEO candidates that DON'T have a serious personality disorder?

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Fiorina would be brilliant

          She would gut that bloated whale and make sushi out of it before she finished brushing her hair on the first Monday morning.

          Then she'd spend three years making sure that anybody who didn't hate Microsoft yet started doing so.

          The she'd leave with a hearty self-congratulatory patting on the back and a ginormous check in her purse.

  18. ElNumbre

    Not a job I'd particularly fancy...

    Dunno if Id want the vacant spot. Think the end of term report would look something like:

    Key Product Lines:

    Desktop - Windows 8 - only selling because it comes free with a box of CoCo Pops.

    Mobile Phones - the fat kid at sports day; makes it over the line, but breathless and well behind the posh kids. Only parents and best mate cheering.

    Servers: Passing required exams, but only achieving grade C. Copies the other kids for virtualisation skills.

    Cloud Services: People buying the service (better to have an ongoing Chinese burn than be punched in the face after school).

    Games Consoles: Treats people like idiots. Believes a flashy presentation beats the content. No resilience of strategy. (See Me)

  19. GitMeMyShootinIrons

    Why do I keep humming....

    Ding Dong the witch is dead.

    He ain't gone yet.

  20. johnwerneken


    Ballmer the Salesman deserves his money, he did greatly help build that company. I dealt with him f2f and have reason to say that. Good for him.

    But whatever Microsoft is going to do (other than curate Office), Ballmer is not the one to lead it there.

  21. albaleo

    Be thankful

    I don't understand the strong emotions displayed here. Most of us have been fortunate to live in times when companies were built on the passion of the founders for the products they delivered. HP, Bill Gates, SteveJobs, Larry Ellison, etc., even the Facebook guy. When they go, the company faces problems. What should drive the company now? This is nothing new - look at Ford, Sony, Panasonic, and many more. Hate Balmer if you want, but putting 'the blame' on him makes no sense. Just be thankful we got to witness these weird and wonderful companies in their beginnings.

  22. Alistair Silver badge

    I can hear the phone call now.....

    Excuse me, Mr Icahn, I think we've found a great opening for you .......

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now I understand...

    why he stuck around so long. He was waiting for the moment where everybody would feel relieved when he said goodbye -- and the stock price would soar. Cleverer than I thought, got to give him that.

  24. Redsyrup

    Here's hoping his replacement brings back TechNet.

  25. Zot


    The used car sales-man is finally leaving the building.

  26. mIRCat

    Your results may vary.

    I tried announcing my retirement, but it didn't have the same effect on my personal wealth.

    Then my boss told me to get back to work. Where's a pint when you need one?

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Your results may vary.

      Did you try throwing chairs or dancing? How about taking your company's leading products and ripping out the parts that everyone does want? Did you develop a new product and completely ignore all customer and partner input then spend $1B on marketing what everyone said was broken?

      If you didn't do any of those things then that's why you didn't get a big payout. Next time you'll know.

  27. Fihart

    the money is part of the problem

    When basically uncultured people like Ballmer luck out and get rich they assume it's due to their own brilliance and become autocrats. Were the same people reasonably comfortably off they would perhaps remain in touch with reality.

    Microsoft's conduct towards customers, other businesses and government shows that it has believed itself untouchable. Fortunately, they haven't been so lucky with their monopoly marketing approach once faced with serious competition from Sony, Apple, Google, Amazon. As they can't buy up and destroy those rivals Microsoft will have to change. From what I've read from ex-employees, the company culture is both destructive of initiative and unwieldy so it will take a radical change of leadership style to slowly turn the company from its seemingly disastrous course.

  28. Hubert Thrunge Jr.

    Bye Bye Ballsy

    So, he's gone. And the stock market like it (that says a lot!)

    Dear Nokia - read and learn.

    Sherlock because, well just because!

  29. Charles Manning

    Jumped or pushed???

    Who cares!

    However, as much as we hate Ballmer, it is unclear that a new boss will be able to improve things.

  30. IGnatius T Foobar

    Microsoft FAIL

    It's pretty obvious that this is all a setup for the triumphant return of Bill Gates as "interim CEO for life" -- in other words, blatantly copying Apple once again.

    Well, if Gates wants to be Jobs, here's hoping that Gates suffers the same end Jobs did.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Microsoft FAIL

      When Apple brought Jobs back they had to buy his company to do it. Even Microsoft couldn't afford to buy off Bill's current organization...

      Also, wishing death by wasting disease on someone is a right shitty thing to do, no matter how much you dislike his company's products.

  31. Mike Flugennock

    And, so, the stockholders retired to their offices...

    ...for the traditional celebratory monkey-dancing and furniture smashing.

  32. 0_Flybert_0

    meh .. not going to help MS value

    while i think it's a good deal to severe Ballmer with $1 billion .. doubt the stock price rise will last .. only good thing coming up for MS is the death of XP next year forcing business and real PC user hold outs to Win7

    there's the new Xbox too .. but that's likely a money loser for a couple of years

    there are two kinds of people .. salesmen and those that know right from wrong

    1. h3

      Re: meh .. not going to help MS value

      That new xbox will likely be profitable from the get go if you look at what is in it.

      (Follow on from bobcat - likely atom type cost - cheap middle of the line gpu 8gb ram 250GB disk - dunno about the kinect costs.)

      It won't have £450 worth of parts that is for sure.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whoever sanctioned W8 is...time-limited, let's say.

  34. Tree

    Can you trust them?

    Ballmer better watch out if he thinks his former employer can be trusted with his retirement. Microsoft could not be trusted with anything for years.

  35. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Nice one, Steve. Now you can lead invisibly from the shadows with pots of rewarding lucre

    Are they advertising for a new CEO or just presently looking around for one with the right stuff?

    And surely, any name out there which be already well known and supposedly in charge and drivering other businesses is not a new train brain to drain and lead MicroSoft fortunes into the future?

  36. Shane Kent

    wo wo wo, stupid...

    Out of date stuck in the 80s and early 90s OK, but stupid. I have wanted to see Steve gone for a while now, but never considered him stupid, and OK again by today's standards stupid. Steve you should have done this years ago your stock would be worth more than the amounts people are talking about on this site, combined! But stupid you are not, and if I had 1/100000000 of your $ to spare maybe then I could call you stupid.

    P.S. You fool you Steve, you should have done this year's ago, fool OK ;)

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      What, you don't even have $150 bucks ?

  37. Dom 3

    Better engineering in the SB era?

    Since BG took his hands off the tiller there have been signs that the engineering inside MS has improved. Whether SB should be given credit for this I do not know.

    99% of sane people agree that Modularity Is A Good Thing.

    BG famously argued "In the commercial world, it is hard to see what value such replace-ability [sic] would provide even if it could be achieved.":

    Of course, BG's point is that in the commercial world, modularity just allows competitors to sell better drop-in replacements. A point that was well-learned back when DR-DOS was about to take over as the OS of choice. Gates's response to *that* was the infamous AARD code:

    which created sufficient FUD that everybody bought MS-DOS to be on the safe side when installing Windows.

    However by the time of IIS7, Microsoft were (and are) promoting it as "built with a completely modular architecture, on top of rich extensibility APIs. This enables developers to easily add, remove and even replace built-in IIS7 components with hand-crafted ones"!

    Fast forward a few years, and I've been downloading some of the free VirtualBox VMs that Microsoft provides to allow cross-browser testing. The Windows 7 VMs weigh in at something over 4GB - this for a cut-down OS + browser, no more. But with Windows 8 they've got this down to a "mere" 2GB or so. This is still ridiculous, but it indicates that they have managed to modularise a great deal of the OS. (Equally clearly, they still have some way to go - a Firefox / Linux browser-only VM would be a small fraction of that size).

    The obvious conclusion then is that post-Gates, MS have started to apply sane engineering principles to their products. But this may not be good news for MS shareholders.

    Gates has, since leaving Microsoft, turned into - to my enormous surprise and slight discomfort, because I hold that his business practices held back the development of good software - something of a hero. Time will tell, but it is possible that his initiatives - and spending of hard cash - in tackling malaria in the third world will do more good than years of Western government aid.

    Other software squillionaires have also done Interesting Things with the money. Let's hope that SB does.

    1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Better engineering in the SB era?

      "Other software squillionaires have also done Interesting Things with the money. Let's hope that SB does."


      I anticipate the setting up of the Stephen Ballmer Benevolent Society for the Relief of Distressed Software Companie CEO's any day now.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Imagine how much Ballmer damaged the US Economy?

    If he can walk away with billions for doing such a terrible job at M$soft, imagine how much better the STate and the nation could be without this woos.

  39. auburnman

    Stephen Elop

    Will need to seriously up the timetable for the destruction of Nokia if he wants to get the big MS chair in the next 12 months.

  40. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    But what an *opportunity* for headhunters everywhere.

    I frankly have no idea if they will promote from within (whoevers floating in that pool) or bring in from outside but getting the contract to do so would be huge.

    I wonder what Dominic O'Connor's thoughts on it are?

  41. Armando 123

    I still say ...

    ... getting rid of Ballmer and replacing him with someone more competent would be worth a billion dollars to the shareholders. I've been saying this for a decade, about the time Longhorn slouched into XP. MS' competitors might be having an "oh crap" reaction to this.

    He always struck me as a phone company bellhead or a Xerox tonerhead. He couldn't think outside the box, partly because he wasn't really aware of the box in the first place.

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