Steve Ballmer is the 5th-richest person in the world
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Bill Gates’ former assistant at Microsoft is now the fifth-richest person in the world, per Bloomberg’s tally, and only one spot behind Gates on the real-time list of the world’s richest people.

Ballmer, who joined Microsoft in 1980 as its 24th employee, has seen his wealth soar to $117 billion over the past year, according to Bloomberg data. Only $5 billion separates Gates from his estimated $122 billion net worth.

Ballmer’s billions put him in fifth place on the Billionaires Index, and his wealth has increased by more than $30 billion since the beginning of the year. The only people ahead of Ballmer are Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates. Larry Ellison, Warren Buffet, Larry Page, Mark Zuckerberg, and Sergey Brin round out the top 10. Among the top-10 cohort, Ballmer is the only non-founder of a major business empire.

During his time at Harvard University, Ballmer met Gates. Ballmer graduated in 1977 with degrees in applied mathematics and economics, while Gates dropped out to start Microsoft.

Some four decades ago, Ballmer began his career at Microsoft as an assistant to the president, though his role was more of a business manager. Eventually, he became its president and then CEO, succeeding Gates. The Los Angeles Clippers basketball team was purchased by Ballmer in 2014, the same year he stepped down as CEO.

Microsoft stock remains a major part of Ballmer’s wealth. Approximately 4% of the company is still owned by Ballmer, according to Bloomberg. In 2023 alone, Microsoft shares have risen some 40%.