KEY POINTS

  • Steve Ballmer has a net worth of $51.4 billion
  • He owns the Los Angeles Clippers
  • Before becoming Microsoft president, he started as an assistant to Bill Gates

Steve Ballmer’s net worth is around $51.4 billion. A lot would be surprised to know he served as an assistant before making it big in the tech industry.

Ballmer was a former assistant of Bill Gates back when Microsoft was still in its early stages. The two were classmates at Harvard. Ballmer was in the midst of getting his MBA degree at Stanford when he decided to quit to help out Gates in his startup. This did not sit well with Ballmer’s parents at first but they agreed on the condition that if the venture failed, he would go back and finish his MBA.

Ballmer never looked back since. Per CNBC, his starting salary was $50,000 per year. He handled mainly HR duties, interviewing and hiring people. In a sense, without his contribution, Microsoft would not be as successful as it is today mainly because Gates was not good at delegating tasks to other people. Ballmer did a great job of hiring people and getting the best to work at Microsoft back then.

He became the president of Microsoft in 1998 and he steered the company to greater heights since then. Ballmer launched Xbox, bought Skype and expanded the business into a $20 billion empire.  After retiring from Microsoft in 2014, he decided to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion. During that time, the team was in disarray due to the racist remarks of its former owner, resulting in player protests. 

According to Forbes, the basketball enthusiast has been ramping up his philanthropic deeds after retiring. For about six years now, he has donated close to $2 billion for causes that lift America from poverty. The 64-year-old also invested millions in Social Solutions, which services NGOs and the government. 

What other aspiring millionaires can learn from him is simple: Do not be afraid to start small. Eventually, through hard work and innovation, a leader can rise to the top. Ballmer stuck to his principles back when working for a computer company was considered a joke. No one believed in computers back then and now people all over the world rely on them to survive. 

Ballmer started at the bottom, being an assistant, never stopped learning, improved, got promoted and learned the tricks of the trade before finally being entrusted with the whole company. The fact that he and Bill Gates are friends but he still had to start small and learn the intricacies of business means only one thing -- resilience and passion can really get anyone far in their chosen field.

steve ballmer Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer criticized the company's cloud computing accounting practices while saying that Windows 10 Mobile apps "won't work" and the phones need to be able to run Android apps. Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images