For the First Time Ever, Steve Ballmer’s Net Worth Surpasses That of Bill Gates

In brief: Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer has surpassed co-founder and former boss Bill Gates in wealth, making him the sixth richest person globally with a net worth of $158 billion. Ballmer’s long-term commitment to Microsoft stock has significantly paid off.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ballmer’s net worth now exceeds those of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, investor Warren Buffett, Dell founder Michael Dell, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, and Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison.

Ballmer’s recent financial surge is tied to Microsoft’s impressive stock performance this year, with shares up 22 percent since January. This is particularly beneficial for Ballmer, given that roughly 90 percent of his net worth is in Microsoft stock.

Interestingly, Ballmer didn’t receive any equity upon joining Microsoft in 1980. Instead, he received a base salary of $50,000 and “10 percent of profit growth” he could generate. This arrangement proved difficult, leading Ballmer to exchange it for eight percent of company stock. He currently holds around four percent of Microsoft’s shares, while Gates owns about one percent.

When Ballmer left Microsoft in 2014, he told Forbes he intended to retain his shares until either he donates them to charity or passes away. At 68, it might be a while before the latter occurs.

Ballmer’s $158 billion wealth is about six billion short of Google co-founder Larry Page’s net worth. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is the fourth wealthiest individual with a portfolio valued at $181 billion. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ranks as the second richest person with a net worth of $222 billion, according to Bloomberg. However, they all trail Elon Musk, who boasts a staggering $241 billion net worth.

This milestone marks the first time Ballmer’s net worth has surpassed Gates’s, highlighting a rare instance where an employee becomes wealthier than the company’s founder. According to Fortune, Ballmer is the only person with a net worth over $100 billion who amassed his fortune as an employee rather than a founder.

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