Steve managing the University football team. One of


            Steve Ballmer was born in Detroit,
Michigan on the date of March 24th, 1956. Frederic Henry Ballmer and
Beatrice Dworkin were Ballmer’s parents. Ballmer met his wife Connie Snyder a
public 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 one
of the wealthier suburbs of Detroit with his sister Shelly, as their father
whom was a Swiss immigrant was working a midlevel management job at Ford Motor
Company. Ballmer attended Detroit Country Day School thanks to a scholarship he
received. Ballmer had a reputation of being a good student whom was seen as a
regular overachiever. In school Ballmer discovered that he had quite a strength
in mathematics. He was an enthusiastic, and extremely intelligent child who was
also involved in playing football, running track on the track team, managing
the basketball team, and participating in many different school clubs, he
accomplished all of these things all whilst holding onto a strong 4.0 grade
point average.

            When Ballmer continued his education
at Harvard University studying mathematics, his dedication and hard work never
faltered. He was still excelling in his classes, and taking on various
different 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 other
than Bill Gates. Bill Gates later on actually ended up dropping out in their
junior year of college to begin working on his startup software company which
flourished in Microsoft. Ballmer went on to continue his education, and earned
a BS degree from Harvard. He then went on to spend almost two years working at
Procter & Gamble before entering the Stanford University Graduate School of
Business in 1979.

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After attending his first year, he paid a visit to
Bill Gates in Seattle, hoping to get a summer job at Microsoft (Gates’s
Company), Instead Gates ended up persuading him to manage the company’s
operations full time. Although Ballmer was not a programmer he was able to
recognize talent, and was assigned his first role as head recruiter for the now
fast-growing firm. Not long after that, a new contract was signed by Microsoft
to create the operating systems for IBM’s newest line of what would eventually
be called personal computers.

Microsoft’s major roles were established with Bill
Gates and Paul Allen (partner and cofounder) in charge of monitoring and
controlling all of the technical aspects of the company, whilst Ballmer was in
charge of handling all of the business aspects for Microsoft. Ballmer was
eventually able to change the way the partnership currently was in 1981, to a
corporate structure where he was able to own a share of the equity. After this
change in the company’s structure the equity ownership was as follows: Bill
Gates 53%, Allen 35%, and Ballmer holding the remaining 8%. With his powers to
handle more of the company, Ballmer decided to implement a stock option plan
for Microsoft employees. Although things were going well for the three, Allen
began to face health problems and later on decided it was best to leave the
company. When this occurred Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer were of course left in
charge to run the company.

Ballmer who was continuing to achieve more control and
stature within the company, was now in charge of the development of the
operating systems in the 1980s, which was the center of the Microsoft’s
business. During this same time, Apple decided to introduce their graphical
user interface, which was a major step towards making all personal computers more
popular, and user friendly. This introduction of Apple’s graphical user interface
was a large threat to MS-DOS which was Microsoft’s industry standard. This
launch by Apple definitely shook things for Microsoft, and they began to fear
the loss of their developers. Ballmer decided that in order to ensure that the developers
would continue creating applications for MS-DOS, they had to announce their
launch of Windows, which was a graphical user interface for MS-DOS, and this
announcement was in 1983. Between the announcement of Windows and its actual
release in October, 1985 a span of 2 years, it was excessively promoted. In
1988 Apple tried to sue Microsoft, claiming that the feel and look of the
Windows 2.0 was an infringement of their copyright, they were however
unsuccessful in their attempts and they lost their suit in 1992.

A few of the Microsoft
divisions such as the development of the operating systems, sales and support
were run by Ballmer up until 1998.
He was promoted to president in July of 1988, and then was later named the
Chief executive officer, or CEO. This position of CEO was and had always been held
by Gates since the beginning of Microsoft. With his new position as CEO,
Ballmer decided to use his newly earned powers to create divisions and divide
the company up into seven different operating divisions. These divisions were
structured to work together to create systematic procedures for various
different projects such as strategic planning, product development, and even
management and employment evaluation. Ballmer also decided that it would be
best to make some changes to the compensation plan, which would be to
completely eliminate the stock options in favor of the outside granting of
restricted stock.

Ballmer who had not yet reached the age of 30 was now
a multimillionaire due to Microsoft’s success, and the fact that it had now
become a publicly held company. Although the money was a huge bonus, it was not
the sole motivation for success, Ballmer and Gates wanted Microsoft to become
the go-to company, and control all aspects of the software market. The
Microsoft office suite products such as, word, excel, and PowerPoint brought a
lot of success to the company and achieved a 90 percent market share by 2004.

The focus and goals for Microsoft shifted quite a bit by
the early 2000s. They were changing all of their focus from a Personal Computer
centered approach, to more of an emphasis on the Microsoft.net architecture
that they had based on the XML technology. This technology allows for the enablement
of integration of applications and data together. Ballmer viewed this as a
major shift in the information technology industry, and he enthusiastically
promoted Microsoft as the dominate player behind setting the standards and
selling the software for the next big thing in computing.

Bill Gates finally decided to step down from his
position as CEO, in January of 2000 and the position was of course given to
Ballmer. It has been reported that this transition of authority was due to
tension between Gates and Ballmer. With the step down of Gates, and the repositioning
of Ballmer as CEO, his real contributions to Microsoft began. Ballmer was able
to almost triple the revenues of Microsoft from $24 billion to $70 billion. A
lot of this profit was due to Windows and Office, which were Microsoft’s most
successful products. In a speech that Ballmer had at Oxford Business School he
stated, “At our company, I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve done at least
two great things… We really invented the modern PC by building Office. Then
the second thing we did was really bring microprocessor technology into the
data center.”

Although things were going well for Microsoft and
Ballmer, there were still quite a few bumps in the road that he had to face and
overcome. With every leap towards success they encountered a leap of criticism
followed. In the year of 1998 Microsoft was hit with some serious charges. This
was due to the antitrust charges that were raised from the United States
Justice Department along with 18 states banding together to prosecute Microsoft.
The major problem in the case was the bundling of the Windows and Internet Explorer
operating systems. Microsoft was being accused of being a monopoly, along with
being accused of using their monopoly powers to illegally grow and protect the
Windows operating system.

Many of the industries observers complained that
Microsoft was dominating the market due to the fact that it succeeded in
pushing out the smaller competitors by any means possible rather than
succeeding with the quality of its products. In 1999 it was ruled by a court
judge that Microsoft was indeed a monopoly, and they were ordered to split into
two separate companies. These charges were of course appealed by Microsoft, and
the court eventually decided to completely be rid of the order to split
Microsoft into two companies, but still upheld the rulings of antitrust and monopoly.

It was unquestionable that Ballmer’s fierce managerial
talent and fierce loyalty is what has driven Microsoft’s growth since the
1980’s. His personality has often been described as easygoing, loud, boisterous,
and his high energy could be felt through all of his interactions. Many viral
videos have surfaced of Ballmer’s speeches and stage appearances. He was well
known for motivating employees and partners through exuberant and energetic
speeches that involved quite a lot of shouting and profuse sweating. His
tactics have definitely achieved incredible results that can be seen through
the success of Microsoft during his reining years.

Although he had mentioned in 2008 that he would remain
CEO for another decade, he finally decided to call it quits in 2013, and
retired. This was after billions of dollars were lost on the surface tablet and
acquisitions. Even after retirement he was on the board of directors until 2014
when he finally stepped down. It has been speculated that there was a rift
between Gates and Ballmer which caused his retirement. Others have speculated
that he was forced to retire early, and when the news hit Microsoft’s stock
increased by 7.5%. Ballmer continues to be a role model and inspiration to many
to this day. His ability to drop out of school and join a tiny startup company
that has grown into a $216 Billion business is absolutely phenomenal.  

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