Steve Ballmer, who was once Bill Gates’ assistant, is now richer than his onetime mentor

When Steve Ballmer joined Microsoft he didn’t get a single company share. But now, his skyrocketing Microsoft holdings have made him richer than the corporate’s founder.

The 68-year-old former Microsoft CEO squeaked by his onetime boss Bill Gates to turn into the sixth richest person on this planet on Monday with a net value of $157 billion. He’s now richer than many well-known tech entrepreneurs including Google cofounder Sergey Brin, Oracle founder Larry Ellison, and Dell Technologies CEO Michael Dell.

It’s also the primary time that Ballmer’s net value has surpassed that of Gates, and one among the few times in history an worker has come to be richer than an organization’s founder. Ballmer is the only person with a net value of $100 billion or more who made their money as an worker relatively than a founder, as Fortune previously reported.

Ballmer’s net value was boosted by a rally in Microsoft’s shares, which closed at an all-time high on Tuesday and have surged 22% since January. Shares of the corporate represent about 90% of his net value, in accordance with the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and Microsoft has been one among the most important beneficiaries of the AI boom fueling markets, because of its $10 billion investment in OpenAI.

In 2014, Ballmer left Microsoft with a couple of 4% stake value $22.5 billion, in accordance with Forbes. On the time, he said that he was holding on to his shares for the long run, Forbes reported.

“I’d prefer to own Microsoft shares until I either give something to charity or I die,” he told the outlet.

Meanwhile, Gates has diversified his portfolio over time away from the corporate he founded, with half of his holdings now managed through private investment firm Cascade Investment. He has a $21 billion stake in waste management company Republic Services through Cascade, Bloomberg reported.

Making a gift of money

Gates’ major philanthropic donations also think about. As of 2023, Gates and his ex-wife Melinda French Gates had donated $59.5 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, turning it into the one among the world’s largest charitable foundations. In 2010, Gates also cocreated the Giving Pledge with French Gates and investor Warren Buffett, and has promised to present away most of his wealth during his lifetime.

Although Steve Ballmer’s holdings have made him one among the richest men on this planet, when he joined as the corporate’s thirtieth worker in 1980, he didn’t get a single share. After dropping out of Stanford Business School, he served as a quasi–personal assistant to Bill Gates with the unimpressive title “business manager,” Forbes reported.

Yet, because Microsoft was seeking to grow rapidly on the time, Gates and his cofounder, Paul Allen, agreed to present Ballmer 10% of the profit growth he generated on top of his $50,000 yearly salary.

That deal turned out to be key to Ballmer’s future wealth. Soon, Microsoft was growing so fast that Ballmer’s 10% cut not made sense financially for the corporate. When Microsoft reorganized as an organization, Ballmer negotiated an 8% slice for himself in exchange for giving up his profit-sharing deal, while Gates and Allen kept 84% and one other 8% was designated for other employees, Forbes reported. Although Allen was against giving Ballmer such a big stake, Gates stepped in and said Ballmer’s 8% cut may very well be funded by a drawdown of his own holdings, in accordance with Forbes.

While on the time Gates put his own money on the road for Ballmer, the 2 have since drifted apart.

“Microsoft was form of the thing that actually sure us,” Ballmer told Bloomberg Television in 2016. “We began off as friends, but then really got quite enmeshed around Microsoft. Since I’ve gone, we actually have drifted slightly bit.”

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