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Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Ballmer Sells Part of his Stake in Microsoft 325

An anonymous reader writes "The Financial Times reports that Steve Ballmer has sold part of his MS shares (my early morning math isn't very good, it seems a shade under 10%). Short of cash? Parking tickets? Or the start of a strategy to get rid of it all without causing too much upset in one go? No idea, but speculation is sure to be with us for a while."
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Ballmer Sells Part of his Stake in Microsoft

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  • Microsoft said the sales were undertaken so that Mr Ballmer could diversify his financial interests.

    my guess is that some of those interests may include this [rogaine.com], this [hairclub.com], and if he's lucky after all that, maybe this [greatclips.com].

    Mike
    • by SlashMirror.org ( 673396 ) * on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:20AM (#6030566) Homepage

      ... Go Ballmer, Go [stenstad.net]
    • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw&snkmail,com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:32AM (#6030613) Journal
      "The share sales amount to one of the biggest one-off disposals ever made by a chief executive, although they still leave Mr Ballmer with some $10bn worth of stock in the company.

      Microsoft said the sales were undertaken so that Mr Ballmer could diversify his financial interests."

      Doesn't this guy ever read Dilbert? As best as I can remember, this is how I went

      Dilbert: The CEO just sold off a lot of his shares of the company. Does this mean we are in trouble?

      PHB: No, he's just diversifying his portfolio.

      Dilbert: Oh, that's alright then.

      PHB: (Madly typing at computer.) Thought bubble: "Sell!...Sell!...SELL!!!"

      • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:40AM (#6030636)
        So true, so true...

        Actually Gates and Ballmer constantly sell shares, ironically at a higher rate since the stock collapse (MSFT used to cost 120$, now it's 50$ (or 25$ after the split)

        Microsoft executives know that Microsoft has a lot to lose and not much to gain. The only market where they are strong (the desktop) they have no room to grow, everywhere else they are losing (servers, embedded systems, gaming consoles).

        Microsoft, the stock will certainly go down in the next years.

        • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:44AM (#6030652)
          Sorry for replying to my own post, but I'd like to add:

          Ballmer now sold 40 Million shares, compared to that Bill Gates sold 400 Million or about 40% of his shares in the last years.

          If Gates and Ballmer don't know where MSFT-stock is headed, who does?

          • by sinan ( 10073 ) <sinan@bozuk.org> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @11:23AM (#6030755) Homepage
            Actually Bill Gates used to own almost 50% as AFAIR. Now he holds about 11% ...

            Which means he has gotten rid of almost 80% of his holdings.

            Yahoo -> MSFT -> insider , looking at last year show an almost scary mass exodus...
            • I wonder if this could also be due to some sort of concern over personal liability in the context of future anti-trust (or past anti-trust) action that could have or could go very poorly.

              Less of a controlling share could be legally perceived as evidence that Gates and Ballmer are just "cogs in the machine". I'm no expert (and barely even slightly knowledgable), so I don't know if this theory has any merit.

              • I would think the main threat of any antitrust action is what it would do to the value of the stock itself. Just owning the stock in some evil corporation I don't think makes you guilty, except by association in the public mind and in that case selling all the stock makes little difference because you owned it once upon a time.

                If in the unlikely scenario that Bill Gates is found guilty of some crime I would also think ownership of the stock would have no bearing on whether he is guilty or not.

            • Slashdot reader SgtChaireBourne [slashdot.org] mentioned this 2 weeks ago in a comment titled Pump & Dump [slashdot.org], in response to a post of mine saying that probably Microsoft code is difficult to maintain [slashdot.org] because Microsoft isn't fixing bugs.

              According to SgtChaireBourne, selling of Microsoft stock by Microsoft executives is common. He said, "Both the frequency and volume of sales is increasing: They're all selling as fast as they get. [slashdot.org]"

              SgtChaireBourne pointed to the SEC (U.S. government Securities and Exchange Commission) list of Microsoft executive trades of stock [sec.gov]. I looked around and quickly found an example. A Microsoft Group Vice President, Kevin R. Johnson, received 322,560 shares of stock [sec.gov] and sold it the same day. He received 244,760 shares of stock [sec.gov] on March 6, 2003 and sold that the same day.

              SgtChaireBourne also said [slashdot.org], "Don't forget that benefits [employee benefits at Microsoft] have been cut way back and there's also been outsourcing like mad. Consultants and contractors don't show up as layoffs when you let them go.

              Earlier in this thread, RoLi [slashdot.org] said, "Microsoft executives know that Microsoft has a lot to lose and not much to gain. The only market where they are strong (the desktop) they have no room to grow, everywhere else they are losing (servers, embedded systems, gaming consoles)." (RoLi's comment #6030636 [slashdot.org].)

              To this must be added that most people who bought a computer as powerful as a Pentium III 866 MHz won't buy another computer. The faster Pentium IIIs were good enough for almost everyone. I have often seen computers survive for more than 10 years. I have a voicemail computer with a 386 SX-16 processor that is perhaps 15 years old, and has been in continual use. The computer market is fast collapsing.
            • by cyberformer ( 257332 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:45PM (#6031904)
              Gates has to sell if he wants to buy his billionaire toys or donate money to chariy: Almost all his famed wealth was originally tied up in MS stock, so the only way to get at it is to sell. To avoid claims of insider trading, and to smooth out the bumps, he sells a little bit pretty much all the time. If he unloaded even 1% at once, the shock would severely hurt MS's stock price, just because of supply and demand, never mind (justified) thoughts that he must have some inside info.

              Dancing Boy is different. MS alrady pays him a 7-figure salary, so he doesn't really need to sell in the way that Gates does. Unless he's got a huge tax bill, gambling debt, ransom demand, etc. to meet.
          • MSFT: float is 8,940,000,000 shares

            Balmer:
            He sold the stock for $23.93 to $24.67 a share. After the transactions, he directly owned 431.6 million common shares.

            Billy G:

            As of 4/29/03: 1,183,499,336 Direct control

            You can work out the % ownership yourself.
        • by fobbman ( 131816 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:54AM (#6030675) Homepage
          Not true. While Gates sells stock almost weekly, Ballmer hardly ever sells stock, according to this blurb [local6.com].

          Of course, this could have been written by a NY Times journalist so take it with a grain of salt.

        • Microsoft executives know that Microsoft has a lot to lose and not much to gain. The only market where they are strong (the desktop) they have no room to grow, everywhere else they are losing (servers, embedded systems, gaming consoles).

          This is true.

          Microsoft, the stock will certainly go down in the next years

          This may very well not be true, because predictions of the future are built into the current market price. (If you don't believe me, put your money were your mouth is and start short selling
    • by Anonymous Coward
      What wasn't reported is that Gates sold half that amount, or 20M shares last month as well, and he does this ALOT. Look here
      http://biz.yahoo.com/t/62/412.html
      for a 2-year history.

      I look for this to escalate as they go down. The tricky part for them is to try to keep it out of the media so everyone's pension fund managers don't catch on and deflate the stock price further.
    • by Jerrry ( 43027 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @02:45PM (#6031624)
      Microsoft said the sales were undertaken so that Mr Ballmer could diversify his financial interests.

      He probably wants to make a big investment in SCO.

  • Sure, he's a billion dollars richer, but he's still got some 400 million shares. must be nice
  • Sing along: (Score:3, Funny)

    by Mononoke ( 88668 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:01AM (#6030504) Homepage Journal
    Accountants!

    Accountants!

    Accountants!

    /goin' for the cheap karma

  • Finally!!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Soulfarmer ( 607565 )
    Maybe he sells them to BG. Parking tickets? For wrong parking of an air-craft carrier?
  • Here's to hoping that the ship is about to sink...
    • It may not seem so, but the parent post is quite insightful. Ballmer knows exactly what MS is working on, maybe this move means that Microsoft is going to make some übermistake (if it hasn't already done).
      Athens PC maybe ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:03AM (#6030510)
    ...and bought RedHat. Here's to the future baby!
  • ...is sell those damn Seahawks [seahawks.com].
  • by John3 ( 85454 ) <john3@cornell s . com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:06AM (#6030516) Homepage Journal
    Of his ADHD problem [stenstad.net]?

    More links [ntk.net] for the video
  • by CptChipJew ( 301983 ) <michaelmiller@gmai l . com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:07AM (#6030518) Homepage Journal
    I !!!
    LOVE !!
    THIS !! ::whoa, the stock is worth that?!::
    SELL !!!
    YEEEAAAAHHHH !!!!
  • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:08AM (#6030519) Homepage Journal
    All of the top brass at Microsoft regularly sell off parts of their shares. Gates has been doing it for years, at a relatively regular pace.

    The thing is, most of the upper management of Microsoft that have been with the company from early on have most of their wealth in Microsoft shares. The problem is that they have to sell it off slowly or they wouldn't manage to get a decent price for it.

    • by capt.Hij ( 318203 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:15AM (#6030550) Homepage Journal
      Exactly! Why is this news? The whole point of giving stock options is for the company to compensate their people without paying for it directly. Folks like Balmer have to sell some time, and there is no reason why he should wait until he dies.

      Also, there is an old saying when it comes to exec's selling and buying shares. There is only one reason to buy but a multitude of reasons to sell. Perhaps he justs wants some extra pocket money?

      • Plus, considering the stock's performance over the last several months, can you blame him for wanting to diversify???
      • by eshefer ( 12336 )
        his is very big news. Perticularly if you follow the history of the PC buisness and MS. BAck in the end of the 80s balmer made a hugh personal gamble - he basicly mortgaged his house and took every lown he could get to buy as many MS shares as he could. HE BELIEVED IN THE COMPANY.

        Now he is selling 10%?!

        which means....

        • Which means.... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mindstrm ( 20013 )
          Maybe he wants to have some guaranteed cash when he retires, no matter what happens to microsoft?

          He's not doing anything different than many other investors with many other companies.. he's selling stock at a profit to get cash.

        • by rnd() ( 118781 )
          which means he is a risk taker. He must not consider Microsoft likely to have the same kind of meteoric growth that it did. That's fine, Microsoft is a mature company now, and is not in the same situation. Ballmer would probably rather have his money invested in a few higher risk enterprises. If he does this successfully, he can buy back three times as many MSFT shares as he just sold with the proceeds.
      • Exactly! Why is this news?

        Do you know what happens when a ship starts to sink? The rats start to jump off, that way they don't get sucked down with it. (Rats are excellent swimmers.)

        So you see, the news is really about the rats. It's news because of the size of the rats, how high they're jumping, and which ship they're jumping off of.
    • While it certain is common practice to sell-off or diversify ones assets, it is *not* common for it to be done on such a large scale in such a short period of time. -- Take the SCO Poll: http://linux-universe.com
    • by Daniel Phillips ( 238627 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:54AM (#6030674)
      All of the top brass at Microsoft regularly sell off parts of their shares. Gates has been doing it for years, at a relatively regular pace.

      The thing is, most of the upper management of Microsoft that have been with the company from early on have most of their wealth in Microsoft shares. The problem is that they have to sell it off slowly or they wouldn't manage to get a decent price for it.


      What's interesting about this particular sale is the timing of it (never mind that it's one of the largest insider stock sales ever). With MS stock price so low and the MS/SCO suit going so well, you'd think he'd see it as a good time to buy.

      Diversifying is one thing, selling at a stupidly low price is quite another. So naturally enough, we're all wondering what Steve knows that we don't.
      • Considering that he has almost 500 million shares and he hasn't sold a single one in 10 years, perhaps, he just wants to diversify? (which any financial minded person will tell you is a Good Thing).
      • by tshak ( 173364 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @12:22PM (#6030918) Homepage
        With MS stock price so low

        Your logic would be correct if stock price was the only factor determining a stocks worth. Stock splits alone change the price of the stock, but not the value to a particular shareholder. What used to be a $50 for Ballmer is now twice as many shares for ~$25. It's essentially the same value. Considering his volume this is a great time to sell.
  • by bigsexyjoe ( 581721 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:08AM (#6030522)
    He increased supply and this will worry people and cause them to sell too.

    Like it or not, Microsoft is doing fine. They have good profits for the forseeable future. His claim that he just wants to diversify is completely plausible. I'm sure his portfolio is disproportionatelyMicrosoft.

    • by jkabbe ( 631234 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:42AM (#6030642)
      Of course Ballmer wants to diversify. Microsoft stock isn't going anywhere fast (down or up). They are a large company that won't be doubling their revenue any time soon. Why have all your wealth in a stock that isn't likely to go up very much? Of course he can't say that so he says "diversify my portfolio"
    • by RoLi ( 141856 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @11:01AM (#6030687)
      Like it or not, Microsoft is doing fine. They have good profits for the forseeable future.

      Like it or not, Microsoft is overpriced. If I would take Microsoft's market capitalization (259 billion $) and put the money into low risk investments at 5% interest, I would make 259 * 0.05 = 12.95 billion in profits per year.

      Microsoft makes only about 10 billion in profits, so it's severly overpriced, especially considering the fact that stocks are very risky.

      Microsoft has just recently raised licensing costs (through Licensing 6.0) but does on the other hand give huge discounts to all major customers if they may go to Linux. I'd say that in the future there is not much room anymore to bleed their customers.

      • Microsoft makes only about 10 billion in profits, so it's severly overpriced,

        Um... that simplifies things just a little too much. There are huge issues that go into market cap and you really are looking at a longer term for stocks, not just one year.

        And even if you do think that its a good stock measurement then why not buy Philip Morris? They have a Market Cap of 85.5 B and 2002 profit of 11 B (or a profit/interst rate of 13%). Good luck with the lawsuits.
        • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @03:55PM (#6031952)
          There are huge issues that go into market cap

          Yes: there is a lot of hype and gambling, and then there is actual value. And to discover how much of a stock's price is due to hype, you compare how much it actually earns for a given amount of money invested in it relative to other investments. That's the point of the comparison.

          and you really are looking at a longer term for stocks, not just one year.

          Maybe you are. Most investment managers aren't.

          Optimal investment strategies strike an optimal balance between the cost and risk of trading and the cost and risk of staying with a given portfolio. Given that trading has become very cheap, it makes sense to trade shares much more frequently than it used to.

          And even if you do think that its a good stock measurement then why not buy Philip Morris?

          You answered your own question: PM is an even higher risk investment than Microsoft. But Microsoft's lawsuits will probably become as vicious and pervasive as the tobacco lawsuits: not only will the monopoly lawsuits expand, you'll probably also get liability and patent lawsuits.
      • Personally, I think all the licensing bullshit is the single largest reason why M$'s sales haven't continued to grow, hence why its stock value has remained flat after the past two splits. In all its history prior to these two most-recent splits (IOW before the dot-bomb bubble), each split was closely followed by a quick rise back to about what it was valued at prior to the split, and has shown particular spikes following the release of each new Windows version.

        Note that up to that point, M$ didn't engage
    • And I don't care how much faith you have in your own company, or how good it's doing -- no one in their right mind puts all their eggs in one basket. Especially a basket as fickle as the stock market.

      Second, stock itself has no useful value; ie. you can't do anything with that money. When you sell it, you get cash with which to do other things. (D'oh!!)

      As to selling while it's at a low, there can be lots of reasons for that. Frex, maybe it was better from a tax standpoint, or maybe a growth opportunity ca
  • by moehoward ( 668736 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:09AM (#6030525)
    Geez. The guy is just diversifying his portfolio. He is the least diverse of all the software billionaires or Buffett.

    Unfricking believable that this is actually a slashdot story.

    I mean, come one. Isn't it amazing enough that he mades $12 billion or whatever on MSFT? Now, the implication of this being on slashdot is that this smells of some sort of bad omen for MS. It's a little late for that given that HE HAS $12 BILLION WORTH OF STOCK!!! (insert Sam Kinison "oh! oh! OooooH!" here)
    • Unfricking believable that this is actually a slashdot story.

      Why? It's a story in the Financial Times, I'd say it warrants interest. Especially considering the timing.

    • I agree with you that there's nothing for conspiracy theorists to worry themselves (and others) here.

      But I will leave you with one thought: Steve Ballmer is the richest employee ever. Never in all recorded history has anyone else hired by a company been paid so much.

      (And, for the benefit of the few who don't understand the difference, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Larry Ellison, etc were founders of their respective companies. Nobody hired them to do a job.)

      Now, given that he's earnt several billio
      • Steve Ballmer was not an "official" founder, but he was a buddy of Bill and Paul from pre-MS days. My guess is that they feel he should have been a founder.

        Also, he's on the board of directors.

        And as to your last troll of a question, they do it for the same reasons geeks stay up all night writing code for open source projects. It's not about the money for either Ballmer or Linus. But my guess is that my previous sentence will be enough to get me modded all the way down to hell. Make it so...
        • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @12:53PM (#6031030) Journal
          I wasn't trolling. It was a serious question.

          Ballmer is a family man. He has kids. If you were in his shoes, wouldn't you want to spend more time with them?

          Or, having experienced the highs of corporate management, wouldn't you want to experience life to the fullest? Learn how to scuba dive, paraglide, fly a helicopter, race a Formula One car, trek across the Andes, climb Mount Everest or swim with dolphins?

          There is life after Microsoft, many of the company's earliest employees have experienced it, but why not Ballmer? OK, he's obviously driven and loves his work, but what's the point of having billions if all you have to show for it is the number of zeroes on your bank statement?

          Life isn't a trial run. You only get one shot. This is a guy who could do almost anything. So, why isn't he?

          I know if I had even a thousandth of his net worth you'd never see me in an office ever again. I'm sure all but a handful of sane people would say the same.

          Oh well, to each his own.
      • Because private islands are BORING. Having everything just becuase you have money is BORING. There is no challenge to it, life ceases to have meaning.

        Oh, I'm not saying that I wouldn't live in the lap of luxury if I were that rich.. but simply existing and being wated upon would not be a satisfying life.

    • Nobody ever said it was a conspiracy. Ballmer just thinks he's better served by investing in something other than Microsoft. It's just interesting to see what he thinks of the company's prospects.
  • next release of the halloween documents... :D
    alyways very entertaining, and let us on to the dirty Microsoft secrets.. (which i'm very sure would be just the tip of the iceberg.
    hmm.. maybe Balmer plans to join the open source community... or he's forseen Microsoft's inevitible doom (wishful thinking by the GNU generation? :p)
    Microsoft's entire ldschool has almost retired.... its all new blood now... interesting..
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:12AM (#6030535)
    At least he didn't start dumping his shares immediately after an IPO while talking up the company like a buffoon, like most tech execs do. It has been 10 years since his last insider sale. I think he deserves some respect for sticking by his company. I can list dozens of startup CEOS whole "liquidated" their shares as soon as possible.

    Be advised, for those who haven't gone through the IPO process with a small startup, to the executive team, the word "liquidated" means sell as much as possible of this shit before it gets de-listed.

    for example:
    http://biz.yahoo.com/t/85/787.html
  • ...separated at birth [serialsquadron.com]?
  • by MarkWatson ( 189759 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:13AM (#6030539) Homepage
    Earlier this year, a fairly high ranked Microsoft executive told me the Microsoft must grow at a fast pace to keep stock options valuable. I think the phrase he used was "grow another Disney each year".

    It seems odd to me that a company that has so much cash and such high profit margins requires mandatory fast growth, but then I am a humble programmer, not a financial guy :-)

    The whole idea goes against my basic philosophy of "take what you need and leave some for others". Not to go off on a huge tangent, but in the western world, greed seems to far outweigh issues like building an enjoyable and productive career. As Josepgh Campbell used to say "follow your bliss"...

    That said, Balmer probably has some fun with Microsoft :-)

    -Mark

    • Stock option values (Score:5, Interesting)

      by John3 ( 85454 ) <john3@cornell s . com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:18AM (#6030561) Homepage Journal
      You're right, stock options are a big part of compensation at M$. I'm sure that their employees are getting impacted by the reduced value of their stock due to the market conditions. Other companies are seeing the same problem, especially compaines like Wal$Mart and Home Despot that rely on stock options to keep low paid store managers and staff happy (or complacent...can you really be happy working at a Big Box [big-box.com] store?).


      That being said, I don't think Ballmer falls under the category of "low paid". :-)

    • by vidarh ( 309115 ) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:29AM (#6030606) Homepage Journal
      Any publicly listed company has a DUTY to their shareholders to increase the shareholders investments as rapidly as possible. Microsofts' only justification for holding on to all the cash they do, for instance is that they claim to produce better shareholder value by reinvesting the money than by paying dividends.

      But the main reason Microsoft ust keep stock options valuable is that they don't pay very well, and they compensate for that by diluting shares by issuing stock options regularly instead. As long as their share price keeps sky rocketing this is a good deal for everyone involved. However as soon as the share price is flat or falling, Microsoft massive stock options issuing risks causing further share price decline, and the low value of the stock options makes it less attractive for top people to work at Microsoft.

      Their alternative if they can't sustain massive growth is increasing salaries and bonuses, and that will cut dramatically into their profit margins, which certainly will further damage their share price.

      It's an extremely high risk strategy on their account - as long as they can grow, they look extremely good to investors. The moment they can't sustain it their problems will quickly multiply thanks to their dependence on rapid growth.

      • Any publicly listed company has a DUTY to their shareholders to increase the shareholders investments as rapidly as possible.

        (IANAL-RU?)

        CEOs don't have a duty to increase the stock's value as quickly as possible. They just have a fiduciary duty to provide a reasonable ROI. This can take the form of increased stock price or healthy dividends, or even simply preserving the stock price in a downward economy.

        While a CEO needs to be compelled to act in the interest of all stockholders, there is no reason to add qualifiers to that.

      • by Waffle Iron ( 339739 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:56AM (#6030679)
        Their alternative if they can't sustain massive growth is increasing salaries and bonuses, and that will cut dramatically into their profit margins, which certainly will further damage their share price.

        Yeah, if they had to give everyone a huge raise, the profit margins might nosedive below 82%, maybe even below 79% *shudder*. If it ever came to that, they'd be better off just throwing in the towel.

      • Any publicly listed company has a DUTY to their shareholders to increase the shareholders investments as rapidly as possible. Microsofts' only justification for holding on to all the cash they do, for instance is that they claim to produce better shareholder value by reinvesting the money than by paying dividends.

        You could also argue this is one of the ridiculous things about the stock market: stock prices are a function of speculation on the value of future stock prices (which will, of course, be based
      • by benzapp ( 464105 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @12:20PM (#6030915)
        Any publicly listed company has a DUTY to their shareholders to increase the shareholders investments as rapidly as possible.

        This is a common, modern misconception. When you buy stock it is a like a loan. The companies are supposed to pay you a percentage of their profits. These are called dividends.

        If you invest with the express purpose of buying low and selling high you will fail.

        This is of course the problem today. People used to pay higher prices for stocks because it was perceived they would pay big dividends. Now, comapnies (like Microsoft) don't even pay dividends (which is illegal).

        People bid up worthless pieces of paper.
    • Microsoft shares have a high Price to Earnings ratio. This means that investors are betting on high growth in future earnings, to justify the current price. Hence, "grow another Disney each year" (probably an exaggeration)
  • Drugs (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:14AM (#6030548)
    He's investing in the drug industry. Think about it:

    a large market of people who have no choice but to buy your product, an army of goons with automatic weapons, the government in your hip-pocket, and all the Latina sex slaves you could want?

    Hmm. Doesn't he already have all that at M$? Perhaps my theory is off.
  • So he and other Microsoft upper management sells some shares. It doesnt matter, most likely Microsoft the corporation buys it back and over a couple years they will get those shares back from their contracts, bonuses, or whatever golden package those C level execs get.

    He's probably just getting a little spending cash rather than accumulating more stock that he doesnt really need if he already has hundreds of millions of shares.
  • by rnd() ( 118781 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:17AM (#6030556) Homepage
    He's probably begun reading Slashdot for his investment advice and now believes that .NET will soon fail.

    Of course, Slashdot is riddled with Millionaires.
  • by ymgve ( 457563 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:25AM (#6030589) Homepage
    After getting access to the Windows source code, China has discovered and created exploits/backdors that will threaten any computer running windows. They have already hacked the Pentagon, and have downloaded the whole TIA database.

    Ballmer knows this, and he is selling his stock to get cash enough to buy out a small tropical island, where he can hide while the DOJ and every luser on the planet marches on to Redmond, torches and pitchforks in hand.
  • by Saint Stephen ( 19450 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:26AM (#6030594) Homepage Journal
    At the company meeting last year, Balmer (memory is fuzzy) he's 47, and plans to return in 10 or 15 years (can't remember which) - I think 10. No Monkeyboy -- but he did play a song from his favorite Broadway play, some 70's wierd shit sounded like Hair or Jesus Christ Superstar. Instead of Monkeyboy or the usual miltary analogies, they played a bunch of videos where people talked about how they failed and what they learned from it -- it was a reaction to Enron/Worldcom "ethics"...

    Important thing is Balmer is ten years and out. MS people are getting old -- I think average age is 35 now. Every great story has an ending...
  • I know why. (Score:5, Funny)

    by malabar-fraise ( 637726 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:27AM (#6030597) Homepage
    He finaly saw a Gnu/Linux desktop running.
  • Gosh. A simple rule of thumb would seem to be, "If selling your share of stock makes the news, you probably have too much." At this point he'd probably be a pauper if MSFT were to hit bottom. Of course, MSFT hitting bottom is probably more related to overall economic conditions than what goes on at Microsoft.
    • Microsoft hitting rock bottom is more related to fantasy than anything else. A company with $40 Billion in the bank is essentially isolated from any kind of market failure, unless it's prolonged over five or so years. Microsoft could easily put everyone on vacation for a year, take a marginal stock hit, and then buy everything back. The company will still be there when everyone comes back, and still would be a good investment.
      • A company with $40 Billion in the bank is essentially isolated from any kind of market failure...

        Not necessarily. Remember, that MS could in theory be fined up to a trillion dollars if things go badly for them over the Passport[tm] security flaws. That's, um, 25 times $40 billion.
  • Or the start of a strategy to get rid of it all without causing too much upset in one go

    don't we all just wish so here on /. ?

    actually all indications show that the current software business model cannot be sustained during the next decade, there are hardly any valuable commercial software without an equivalent open source nephew even if not so-ready today but it is promising (remember how Linux itself started?).
    IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft are all stretching this business model to the maximum but the e
    • Quite true. The ones resisting the change (because they do believe in their model) are many of the business men, especially the high up ones. An IT industry based on services would prove to be more efficient, cheaper, secure, provide more jobs, and many other reasons. It will take the money out of the pockets of all those rich executives and put it into hard working IT professionals. With open source code being the norm, the quality of code will only improve. With so many IT professionals being able to
  • Other stuff (Score:3, Interesting)

    by GreggyBUIUC ( 262370 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:40AM (#6030632)
    Some interesting tidbits from a parallel article [internetnews.com].

    Ballmer has only dropped about 15% of his ownership in MS since his involvement with the company as compared to Gates and Allen who each own only 50% of their original stake.

    Contrary to intution, MS shares actually rose as this occured, climbing 6 cents to close at 24.22 on Friday. MS had declined 7 of the last 9 trading sessions.

    It seems that the public hasn't taken this as an indication that MS is going the way of the iLoo anytime soon.

  • by janda ( 572221 ) <janda@kali-tai.net> on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:40AM (#6030637) Homepage
    So, Dubya signs a tax-cut which includes lots of short-term and long-term capitals gains cuts, and Ballmer suddenly decides to sell a lot of stock.

    Gee, I wonder why.

    For those speculating on other things, I think Ballmer, et. al. *KNOW* that the profitability of MS is eventually doomed, but can't think of a way of getting out big time without crashing the company. So, they sell off here, they sell off there, and do the standard "screw the employee, shareholders, and everybody else not part of the good-buddy club" routine.
  • by verch ( 12834 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:44AM (#6030650)
    This is par for the course. All CEOs do it. This story just made it to /. since its Ballmer and, well, if he took a dump people would try and tie it back to MS being evil. Larry Augustin sold 100k shares a the end of February, nobody posted that. Matt Szulik sold 500k shares at the beginning of the year and Mcnealy sold almost 5 million in April. Nobody cared about those. Sorry folks, Ballmer just has a smart financial planner, this doesn't mean MS is doomed.
  • by shoemakc ( 448730 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @10:45AM (#6030653) Homepage
    Yossarian!
  • Step 1: President of global software company sells part of his hold in company.

    Given: This provides an image of the president allegedly losing faith in his company and their projects. This may be an indicator for others to sell. Stock price-per-share drops.

    Step 2: If the drop is enough, president re-purchases his previously sold shares of stock at a lower price.

    Given: Everyone else scrambles to buy up what's left.

    Step 3: Value skyrockets. Profit! (From leftover money in difference of higher-pric
  • by linuxislandsucks ( 461335 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @11:02AM (#6030689) Homepage Journal
    Steve Balmer diversifies into buying SCO Grou at their asking rpice of $1 billion..

    News at 11
  • Diversification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Hasler ( 414242 ) on Saturday May 24, 2003 @11:11AM (#6030710) Homepage
    > No idea, but speculation is sure to be with us for a while."

    None of which will take into consideration the possibility that he is simply diversifying his holdings as all financial advisors tell us to do. Do you have all your savings invested in your employer's stock?

  • he needs more antipersperant?
  • Insider report. (Score:2, Informative)

    by Mogomra ( 654796 )
    According to the insider report at Yahoo [yahoo.com], this is the first time Ballmer's done anything with his stock in over a year.

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