Most people seem to assume Bill Gates owns Microsoft, being the company’s founder, but in reality, the company actually belongs to someone else – at least, on paper.
Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975 and the software development company has since developed into one of the most powerful and profitable worldwide corporations doing billions of dollars in annual revenue.
From its humble beginnings, it has grown to become one of the greatest corporate success stories of all time. And much of that is owed to the stewardship of Bill Gates.
But contrary to popular thought, Microsoft is not really Bill Gates’. At least, not anymore. A lesser-known individual actually “owns the company more than he does.”
Steve Ballmer (former Microsoft CEO and one of the company’s early employees) is the single largest individual shareholder of Microsoft. Ballmer owns 4 percent of Microsoft valued at USD 42 Bn, implying that he owns more of the company than its original founder who continues to get most of the attention because of his personality and philanthropy.
Back in 2014, Gates sold 4.6 million Microsoft shares. That action lowered his holdings to 330,141,164 shares in the company. Ballmer owns 333,252,990 shares.
In May of 2017, Gates donated 64 million shares of his Microsoft stock, worth USD 6.4 Bn at the time. To date, he has sold USD 35.8 Bn worth of Microsoft stock to fund the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Gates and his wife Melinda began the philanthropic organization in 1997 and continue to lead its mission to improve lives in the poorest countries in the world. The private foundation focuses on health issues, such as the eradication of malaria and polio, and controlling the spread of tuberculosis and HIV.
By selling off those shares to fund his philanthropy, Gates has progressively eroded his ownership of the company which has seen his holdings dip under those of Ballmer, the second CEO of the company (he took over from Gates).
But even as he has sold or given away much of his stake in Microsoft, Bill Gates continues to sit at the top end of several wealthiest people lists, with an approximate current net worth of USD 103.1 Bn according to Forbes’ most recent data. As a matter of fact, he has either been the world’s richest or second-richest man since 2008. That was until French billionaire, Bernard Arnault, took his spot a few days ago.
In any case, he remains one of the most influential and inspiring visionaries of the modern world.
Featured Image Courtesy: Business Insider