Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has decided to step down from the company’s board to focus on basketball and teaching, and enjoy the benefits of being a chief shareholder.
In a letter to his successor Satya Nadella, which has been published online, Ballmer reflected on the past six months since he retired as Microsoft CEO and admitted his time is now spent focusing on the Los Angeles Clippers (the professional basketball team he now owns), civic contribution, teaching and study.
“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 wrote.
“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.”
Ballmer also revealed in his letter that he holds more Microsoft shares than anyone other than index funds. “(I) love the mix of profits, investments and dividends returned in our stock. I expect to continue holding that position for the foreseeable future,” he wrote.
He had the time of his life
Ballmer joined Microsoft as its 30th employee in 1980 and was appointed CEO in 2000. He announced in August 2013 that he would step down as CEO within 12 months and, the following month, said a tearful goodbye at his last employee meeting – complete with Dirty Dancing’s Time of My Life as a finisher.
Ballmer’s letter to Nadella is just as emotionally invested.
“I bleed Microsoft – have for 34 years and I always will,” he concluded, while also committing to keep his ideas and inputs flowing into the company, and to “encourage boldness by management” in his role as a shareholder.
In his response, Nadella thanked Ballmer for his 34 years of service and for his support during the transition period for the new CEO.
“While your insights and leadership will be greatly missed as part of the board, I understand and support your decision,” he wrote.