Steven Ballmer Turns Wealthier Than Bill Gates, Is Sixth Richest Globally

For the first time in his life, former Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer is wealthier than co-founder Bill Gates. On Monday, he became the sixth wealthiest person in the world, passing Gates.

The decision was made as Microsoft shares reached a new all-time high, increasing their gain for the year to 21%. The company’s partnership with OpenAI has elevated it to the forefront of the artificial intelligence (AI) upswing that has boosted US stock prices.

More than 90% of Ballmer’s net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, is invested in Microsoft shares. His wealth is estimated to be $157.2 billion. Cascade Investment, which Gates founded with the proceeds from the sale and dividends of Microsoft shares, now holds almost half of his $156.7 billion fortune. Additionally, he owns a $21 billion stake in the waste management company Republic Services Inc. via Cascade.

At 68 years old, Gates has been progressively donating away his riches. The $75 billion Gates Foundation is one of the largest charity organizations in the world, and it was built in part by Gates’s fortune, in conjunction with that of his ex-wife, Melinda French Gates, and his friend Warren Buffett.

Over the last two decades since he and his ex-wife started the foundation, Gates has given away about $60 billion. When French Gates stepped down as co-chair of the foundation, she was granted $12.5 billion to do with as she pleased.

To urge the wealthiest individuals on Earth to donate the majority of their wealth to charity, either during their lifetime or after death, Buffett, Gates, and French Gates established the Giving Pledge in 2010.

However, he has not joined the Giving Pledge. 68-year-old Ballmer does some charitable activity, but it pales in comparison to Gates’s.

Ballmer, who had been an early employee of Microsoft, succeeded Gates as CEO in 2000 after he had co-founded the firm with his buddy Paul Allen in 1975. After becoming Microsoft’s largest shareholder in 2014, Ballmer departed from his position that same year. His 2014 investment of $2 billion in the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers is now valued at an estimated $4.6 billion.