Business & Finance

Steve Ballmer Surpasses Bill Gates in Wealth, Becoming Sixth-Richest Person Globally

Steve Ballmer, former CEO of Microsoft, has surpassed Bill Gates to become the sixth-richest person in the world. This milestone is largely attributed to the rise in Microsoft’s stock value. While Gates has diversified his wealth and focused on philanthropy, Ballmer’s fortune remains heavily invested in Microsoft shares.

In a remarkable turn of events, Steve Ballmer, the former CEO of Microsoft, has overtaken Bill Gates in wealth, marking the first time he has been wealthier than the company’s co-founder. As of Monday, Ballmer became the sixth-richest person globally, a position previously held by Gates.

This shift in wealth comes as Microsoft shares reached a new all-time high, boasting a 21% gain this year. The tech giant’s strong performance is significantly attributed to its partnership with OpenAI, which has positioned Microsoft as a major beneficiary of the booming artificial intelligence sector driving the US stock market.

According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Ballmer’s net worth now stands at an impressive 57.2 billion USD (R2.89 trillion), with over 90% of this wealth tied up in Microsoft shares. On the other hand, Gates’ net worth is reported at 156.7 billion USD (R2.88 trillion). Gates has diversified his fortune significantly; approximately half of his wealth is managed through Cascade Investment, a firm established using the proceeds from his Microsoft stock sales and dividends. Cascade holds a notable 21 billion USD (R386 billion) stake in Republic Services, a prominent waste-management company.

Gates, now 68, has been gradually reducing his fortune through extensive philanthropic efforts. Alongside his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, and close friend Warren Buffett, Gates has channeled billions of dollars into the Gates Foundation, which they founded over two decades ago. The foundation, now valued at 75 billion USD (R1.4 trillion), stands as one of the largest charitable organizations worldwide. To date, Gates and French Gates have donated nearly 60 billion USD from their personal wealth to the foundation.

In addition to their foundation work, Gates, French Gates, and Buffett launched the Giving Pledge in 2010, an initiative encouraging the world’s wealthiest individuals to commit to giving away the majority of their fortunes during their lifetimes or through their wills. Recently, French Gates stepped down as co-chair of the Gates Foundation, receiving 12.5 billion USD to pursue her own philanthropic endeavors.

In contrast, Ballmer, also 68, has not signed the Giving Pledge. Although he engages in philanthropy, his charitable contributions are not on the same scale as Gates. Ballmer’s journey with Microsoft began in 1975 when Gates founded the company with his friend Paul Allen. Ballmer, one of the company’s earliest employees, succeeded Gates as CEO in 2000. He retired from Microsoft in 2014, coinciding with becoming the company’s largest shareholder.

Apart from his Microsoft holdings, Ballmer made a notable investment in the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, purchasing the team for 2 billion USD in 2014. This investment has appreciated significantly, now valued at approximately 4.6 billion USD.

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