Technology

Steve Ballmer leaves Microsoft board to focus on Clippers, teaching

Steve Ballmer leaves Microsoft's board but remains the firm's largest individual shareholder

New Clippers owner Steve Ballmer resigned from Microsoft's board of directors, saying Tuesday that the combination of "the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study" would leave him little time to keep abreast of the company he led for 14 years.

"Given my confidence and the multitude of new commitments I am taking on now, I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off," Ballmer said in a letter to Satya Nadella, Ballmer's successor as Microsoft's chief executive. "The fall will be hectic between teaching a new class and the start of the NBA season, so my departure from the board is effective immediately."

Last week, the NBA officially cleared Ballmer's $2-billion purchase of the Clippers. Ballmer stepped down as Microsoft's CEO six months ago after a tumultuous reign in which he missed the potential of the iPhone but found a hit in the Xbox gaming console.

Ballmer, 58, said he hadn't really considered post-Microsoft life until his last day. At a welcome rally in Los Angeles on Tuesday and in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Ballmer signaled that he has plenty of ideas about the Clippers that should keep him busy. Among them is introducing technology at Staples Center to keep fans better engaged.

He's scheduled to teach at USC's Marshall School of Business during the spring 2015 semester, a university spokeswoman said. Additional details were not immediately available. Ballmer gave a commencement address to this year's Marshall graduates in May, reminding them to "treasure time" and "be hard-core."

The new Clippers owner said he will remain Microsoft's biggest individual shareholder.

"I bleed Microsoft — have for 34 years and I always will," he said. "I continue to love discussing the company’s future. I love trying new products and sending feedback. I love reading about what is going on at the company. Count on me to keep ideas and inputs flowing."

Ballmer announced his intent to resign as CEO of Microsoft almost exactly a year ago, and since an initial dive, Microsoft shares have been trending upward. They were trading at about $45.11 late Tuesday.

FBR Capital Markets analyst Daniel Ives told investors that Ballmer stepping down from the board was a positive for the company that officially gave it a fresh slate.

"While Mr. Ballmer expects to continue to be a large Microsoft shareholder for the foreseeable future, today's announcement marks the final chapter in the 'Ballmer era' at Microsoft," Ives said.

Chat with me on Twitter @peard33.

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3 p.m. This post was updated to add comments from a USC spokeswoman and a stock analyst.

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