Steve Ballmer won the bidding war to buy the Clippers for $2 billion, although other NBA owners and possibly Donald Sterling must still approve any sale.

But Ballmer clearly has the money to buy the team — he amassed his fortune as a longtime executive of software giant Microsoft Corp. Forbes estimates Ballmer's net worth totals $20 billion, mainly because of the Microsoft stock he owns, ranking him 35th among the world's billionaires


This isn't the first time Ballmer has pursued an NBA franchise.

Last year he joined money manager Chris Hansen in bidding on the Sacramento Kings, intending to move the team to Seattle. Microsoft has its headquarters near Seattle in Redmond, Wash.

But a group led by another software executive, Vivek Ranadive, bought the Kings after the NBA rejected the proposed move to Seattle.

Ballmer told the Wall Street Journal he does not plan to move the Clippers.

If Ballmer succeeds in acquiring the Clippers, he might be one of their biggest court-side cheerleaders. Ballmer was known for often giving high-energy, emotional speeches at Microsoft events.

Microsoft was founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen, but Ballmer — a friend of Gates' at Harvard University —joined the company in 1980 and was its first business manager.

The 58-year-old Ballmer, a father of three, became Microsoft's chief executive in 2000 and held that post until he retired in February.

There were decidedly mixed reviews of his tenure as CEO. Microsoft's revenue more than tripled and profit doubled under his leadership, but the company lost ground in some markets to Google and Apple, and Microsoft's stock price was flat for much of his tenure.

Ballmer grew up near Detroit, where his father worked as a manager at Ford Motor Co., and earned a bachelor's degree in mathematics and economics at Harvard.

Ballmer, who remains on Microsoft's board of directors, owned 333.3 million shares of Microsoft as of last September, according to the company's most recent annual-meeting documents.

Twitter: @PeltzLATimes

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