Steve Ballmer made $769 million by retiring as Microsoft CEO


I’m sure you’ve heard stories of  how disgraced executives at a Fortune 500 company make like bandits by receiving millions in compensations and stock options upon leaving — or being forced out of — their company. After reading the title of this post, you probably thought this is another similar situation. Not so.

You see Steve Ballmer has been working at Microsoft since 1980, with the last 13 years as CEO (he become CEO in 2000). In that time, he has amassed 333,252,990 Microsoft shares (probably due to compensation vis-a-vis stock options or grants). On August 22, 2013, the closing price of a share of Microsoft stock was $32.39, making Ballmer’s stake worth roughly $10.794 billion. On August 23, 2013, Ballmer announced he will be retiring from Microsoft within twelve months. As AllThingsD points out, immediately after his announcement, Microsoft share price increased by roughly 7%, making Ballmer’s personal share worth $11.563 billion. That means Ballmer made roughly $769 million by simply retiring as Microsoft CEO.

I wonder how Ballmer must feel after learning his company is worth more with him out the door. Then again, I’m not sure he cares; he is a bloody billionaire — 51st richest person in the world according to Forbes. I wish I was in a position to not care about a windfall of $769 million.

[via AllThingsD, image via Wikipedia]

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  • JMJ

    [@Karl J. Gephart] I’m sorry to hear that your considerable experience in the business world results in a net-net-negative balance sheet. Happily (luckily?), mine has been very different, as it has with the sum total of the people I’ve encountered in all walks of my life.

    — In one walk of my life, while consulting on an employee-benefits package for a domestic mid-sized company, I mentioned how my recommendations — LEGALLY but strategically structured, could save the principals several tens-of-thousands of dollars in Federal taxes. They threw me out! They perceived me to be a trickster who was “abusing” the law in order to save them money!!! Money that would have gone DIRECTLY, LEGALLY into their own pockets.

    These two guys were the sole shareholders of the company, wanted what was best for their workers and WANTED to pay their “fair share” of taxes. I walked out poorer but ennobled.

    — I was doing similar planning for a very successful businessman who had recently re-married. He wanted to make sure all was optimally planned in case he should pre-decease his new Bride of about two years. Together, this 55+ year-old couple and I went over the nuts & bolts. At one point, Wifey-poo left the office and it was then that Hubby leaned closer to me and, like a conspirator in a Tom Clancy novel, semi-whispered that he REALLY counted on me to do my absolute best to protect her interests because she had been so good to him.

    — I have a buddy whose younger brother SIMULTANEOUSLY earned his Neurosurgical M.D. and Bio-chemical (I think.) doctorate from Oxford. Upon graduation, he married a minor British nobleman’s daughter and, shortly thereafter, returned home to the U.S. Immediately, admitting rights were granted him from Columbia-Presbyterian, Sloan-Kettering, etc., etc., hospitals.

    He had it made, right? He and his new wife promptly marched off to open a clinic in a so-called Third World country foregoing MILLIONS of dollars in earnings.

    I got lots more like that. So, my friend, if we share our experiences 50/50, perhaps we each will benefit: I’ll be a little wiser and you’ll be a little less disheartened.

  • Karl J. Gephart

    [@JMJ] That’s the way the business world should work idealistically, but not the way most of it really operates. Though I find it disgusting, most people are blinded by brown-nosing and what they perceive to be “friendship.” They’re not interested in listening to constructive criticism; they just want to surround themselves by “yes-men” as many of them pilfer assets from the company. I’ve spent nearly 30 years in the private sector in several industries, and this is all I’ve ever seen. I’ve known people in government jobs who tell me the same stories. If Ballmer does have “the goods,” he certainly doesn’t convey it, to hear him speak. He should have stayed behind the scenes more and used better marketing tactics. Gates is, at least, a very good salesman – nothing more. He’s stolen (excuse me, “bought and rebranded”) much of the software and hardware he’s become famous for. At least he had the backbone to stand up to Steve Jobs in the end.

  • JMJ

    [@Karl J. Gephart] Anyone who achieves success and, more importantly, maintains and grows that success — especially at this level of achievement, did not do as the result of a “favor”. Yeah, doors may have been opened by association but, I assure you, successful people do not long tolerate incompetence or fools. Gates (and Jobs even more so) is a superb judge of talent, in addition to being a brilliant engineer and businessman. In Ballmer, it’s obvious that he chose wisely and, had he not, we would not be discussing his being panned by the accountants, money changers and attorneys earning his $769 MILLION DOLLARS.

    Can you imagine existing in such a rarified space where being labeled a “drag on a company” nets you what it would take 769 well-paid workers a LIFETIME to earn? Never mind those of us Earthlings who subsist on $2.00 per day?

    Nah! Though he looks like a bit player in a low-budget horror movie, this guy Ballmer has the goods.

  • Karl J. Gephart

    And ALL he had to do was be a good friend to Bill Gates in his youth!

  • JMJ

    [@Verve] I share your opinion. Something that troubles my soul, Verve, is the fact that many, many people I’ve encountered in life, who do not share that *irrefutable* view, prosper, are good and appear to be happy and content.

    Like so many things that I thought I “knew”, perhaps this is another that needs some reflection?

  • Verve

    [@JMJ] Are his eyes full of dollar signs, or full of compassion. That will be the mark of the man.

  • JMJ

    [@Mikerman] I’m a staunch proponent of capitalism — informed, responsible capitalism, but one has to think twice about the accumulation of such wealth in a world where many are hungry, without clean, safe water or even the possibility of getting an education. That’s why I so respect Gates and his mentor, Buffett.

    My socialist musings aside, I would not whine too loudly at being able to decide whether to keep or give away $37Bn+. Ballmer, too, probably is not crying too hysterically about being perceived as a drag on Microsoft. In any event, $769M buys a lot of Kleenex.

  • Mikerman

    What do you DO with that sorta money? Buy a country and name it after yourself?

    (Equally important, is anyone worth that sorta money? With all due respect, certainly not Mr. Ballmer . . . .)