And that desire to be a part of the sports scene isn't entirely surprising for a man many have described over the years as the head cheerleader for Microsoft.
An outsized presence, Ballmer is a native of Detroit who attended
In 1980, Gates persuaded his friend to quit and become the 30th employee and first business manager of the company now called Microsoft. Over the next two decades, the pair became an essential force in ushering in the PC-era of computing. The franchise they would build around the Windows operating system created a company feared throughout Silicon Valley, and one that made them -- along with co-founder
Over this stretch, Ballmer gained a reputation for having a, well, exuberant personality. At sales meetings, he rallied the company's sales force by jumping around the stage and shouting. He also filmed a number of zany Microsoft promotional videos that have long since gone viral, in which he can be seen hawking early versions of Windows with the vigor of a used car salesman.
In January 2000, Ballmer succeeded Gates as CEO of Microsoft, a job he held until February. While the company’s revenues and profits continued to expand throughout Ballmer’s tenure, there was a sense that the company had fallen behind in a number of key technologies, such as Internet services and search (to
"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share," he told an interviewer. "No chance."
Though supporters believed that Ballmer's successes, such as launching the Xbox and pushing the company deeper into business-related computing markets, were never fully acknowledged, Ballmer decided last year he would step aside because he believed the negative perceptions of his leadership would always color outsiders' view of the company.
Since joining Microsoft, Ballmer has made the Seattle area his home. Microsoft co-founder Allen used some of his fortune to buy the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers.