Steve Ballmer was born in Detroit,Michigan on the date of March 24th, 1956. Frederic Henry Ballmer andBeatrice Dworkin were Ballmer’s parents. Ballmer met his wife Connie Snyder apublic relations executive, in 1990 and had a total of three children with her,all of which are sons. Ballmer was fortunate enough to have been raised in oneof the wealthier suburbs of Detroit with his sister Shelly, as their fatherwhom was a Swiss immigrant was working a midlevel management job at Ford MotorCompany.
Ballmer attended Detroit Country Day School thanks to a scholarship hereceived. Ballmer had a reputation of being a good student whom was seen as aregular overachiever. In school Ballmer discovered that he had quite a strengthin mathematics.
He was an enthusiastic, and extremely intelligent child who wasalso involved in playing football, running track on the track team, managingthe basketball team, and participating in many different school clubs, heaccomplished all of these things all whilst holding onto a strong 4.0 gradepoint average. When Ballmer continued his educationat Harvard University studying mathematics, his dedication and hard work neverfaltered. He was still excelling in his classes, and taking on variousdifferent side activities. Ballmer worked on the Harvard Crimson newspaper,University literary magazine, all whilst managing the University football team.One of his classmates whom he would occasionally played poker with was none otherthan Bill Gates.
Bill Gates later on actually ended up dropping out in theirjunior year of college to begin working on his startup software company whichflourished in Microsoft. Ballmer went on to continue his education, and earneda BS degree from Harvard. He then went on to spend almost two years working atProcter & Gamble before entering the Stanford University Graduate School ofBusiness in 1979.
After attending his first year, he paid a visit toBill Gates in Seattle, hoping to get a summer job at Microsoft (Gates’sCompany), Instead Gates ended up persuading him to manage the company’soperations full time. Although Ballmer was not a programmer he was able torecognize talent, and was assigned his first role as head recruiter for the nowfast-growing firm. Not long after that, a new contract was signed by Microsoftto create the operating systems for IBM’s newest line of what would eventuallybe called personal computers. Microsoft’s major roles were established with BillGates and Paul Allen (partner and cofounder) in charge of monitoring andcontrolling all of the technical aspects of the company, whilst Ballmer was incharge of handling all of the business aspects for Microsoft. Ballmer waseventually able to change the way the partnership currently was in 1981, to acorporate structure where he was able to own a share of the equity. After thischange in the company’s structure the equity ownership was as follows: BillGates 53%, Allen 35%, and Ballmer holding the remaining 8%.
With his powers tohandle more of the company, Ballmer decided to implement a stock option planfor Microsoft employees. Although things were going well for the three, Allenbegan to face health problems and later on decided it was best to leave thecompany. When this occurred Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were of course left incharge to run the company.Ballmer who was continuing to achieve more control andstature within the company, was now in charge of the development of theoperating systems in the 1980s, which was the center of the Microsoft’sbusiness.
During this same time, Apple decided to introduce their graphicaluser interface, which was a major step towards making all personal computers morepopular, and user friendly. This introduction of Apple’s graphical user interfacewas a large threat to MS-DOS which was Microsoft’s industry standard. Thislaunch by Apple definitely shook things for Microsoft, and they began to fearthe loss of their developers. Ballmer decided that in order to ensure that the developerswould continue creating applications for MS-DOS, they had to announce theirlaunch of Windows, which was a graphical user interface for MS-DOS, and thisannouncement was in 1983. Between the announcement of Windows and its actualrelease in October, 1985 a span of 2 years, it was excessively promoted. In1988 Apple tried to sue Microsoft, claiming that the feel and look of theWindows 2.
0 was an infringement of their copyright, they were howeverunsuccessful in their attempts and they lost their suit in 1992.A few of the Microsoftdivisions such as the development of the operating systems, sales and supportwere run by Ballmer up until 1998.He was promoted to president in July of 1988, and then was later named theChief executive officer, or CEO. This position of CEO was and had always been heldby Gates since the beginning of Microsoft. With his new position as CEO,Ballmer decided to use his newly earned powers to create divisions and dividethe company up into seven different operating divisions. These divisions werestructured to work together to create systematic procedures for variousdifferent projects such as strategic planning, product development, and evenmanagement and employment evaluation. Ballmer also decided that it would bebest to make some changes to the compensation plan, which would be tocompletely eliminate the stock options in favor of the outside granting ofrestricted stock. Ballmer who had not yet reached the age of 30 was nowa multimillionaire due to Microsoft’s success, and the fact that it had nowbecome a publicly held company.
Although the money was a huge bonus, it was notthe sole motivation for success, Ballmer and Gates wanted Microsoft to becomethe go-to company, and control all aspects of the software market. TheMicrosoft office suite products such as, word, excel, and PowerPoint brought alot of success to the company and achieved a 90 percent market share by 2004. The focus and goals for Microsoft shifted quite a bit bythe early 2000s. They were changing all of their focus from a Personal Computercentered approach, to more of an emphasis on the Microsoft.net architecturethat they had based on the XML technology.
This technology allows for the enablementof integration of applications and data together. Ballmer viewed this as amajor shift in the information technology industry, and he enthusiasticallypromoted Microsoft as the dominate player behind setting the standards andselling the software for the next big thing in computing. Bill Gates finally decided to step down from hisposition as CEO, in January of 2000 and the position was of course given toBallmer. It has been reported that this transition of authority was due totension between Gates and Ballmer. With the step down of Gates, and the repositioningof Ballmer as CEO, his real contributions to Microsoft began.
Ballmer was ableto almost triple the revenues of Microsoft from $24 billion to $70 billion. Alot of this profit was due to Windows and Office, which were Microsoft’s mostsuccessful products. In a speech that Ballmer had at Oxford Business School hestated, “At our company, I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve done at leasttwo great things… We really invented the modern PC by building Office. Thenthe second thing we did was really bring microprocessor technology into thedata center.” Although things were going well for Microsoft andBallmer, there were still quite a few bumps in the road that he had to face andovercome.
With every leap towards success they encountered a leap of criticismfollowed. In the year of 1998 Microsoft was hit with some serious charges. Thiswas due to the antitrust charges that were raised from the United StatesJustice Department along with 18 states banding together to prosecute Microsoft.The major problem in the case was the bundling of the Windows and Internet Exploreroperating systems. Microsoft was being accused of being a monopoly, along withbeing accused of using their monopoly powers to illegally grow and protect theWindows operating system. Many of the industries observers complained thatMicrosoft was dominating the market due to the fact that it succeeded inpushing out the smaller competitors by any means possible rather thansucceeding with the quality of its products.
In 1999 it was ruled by a courtjudge that Microsoft was indeed a monopoly, and they were ordered to split intotwo separate companies. These charges were of course appealed by Microsoft, andthe court eventually decided to completely be rid of the order to splitMicrosoft into two companies, but still upheld the rulings of antitrust and monopoly.It was unquestionable that Ballmer’s fierce managerialtalent and fierce loyalty is what has driven Microsoft’s growth since the1980’s. His personality has often been described as easygoing, loud, boisterous,and his high energy could be felt through all of his interactions.
Many viralvideos have surfaced of Ballmer’s speeches and stage appearances. He was wellknown for motivating employees and partners through exuberant and energeticspeeches that involved quite a lot of shouting and profuse sweating. Histactics have definitely achieved incredible results that can be seen throughthe success of Microsoft during his reining years.Although he had mentioned in 2008 that he would remainCEO for another decade, he finally decided to call it quits in 2013, andretired. This was after billions of dollars were lost on the surface tablet andacquisitions.
Even after retirement he was on the board of directors until 2014when he finally stepped down. It has been speculated that there was a riftbetween Gates and Ballmer which caused his retirement. Others have speculatedthat he was forced to retire early, and when the news hit Microsoft’s stockincreased by 7.5%. Ballmer continues to be a role model and inspiration to manyto this day.
His ability to drop out of school and join a tiny startup companythat has grown into a $216 Billion business is absolutely phenomenal.