Now that he’s finally owner of the Los Angeles Clippers after a summer of courtrooms and controversy, Steve Ballmer has mapped out his retirement, and it no longer includes Microsoft. The day after ebulliently leading a Clippers fan festival and making the rounds of ESPN and seemingly every sports-talk radio show on the continent, Ballmer stepped down from Microsoft’s board. He had been the company’s CEO for 14 years and had remained on the board after turning that job over to Satya Nadella in February.
But, he wrote in a letter to Nadella published on the Microsoft website today: “I think it would be impractical for me to continue to serve on the board, and it is best for me to move off. I see a combination of the Clippers, civic contribution, teaching and study taking a lot of time.”
It’s amazing how retirement can get so darned busy, huh, Steve? Ballmer wrote that he still holds more Microsoft stock than anyone but index funds, and will remain intensely interested in its progress as Nadella tries to shift company operations to a “cloud-first, mobile-first” (which first is first?) world of technology. But, given his busy fall and his confidence in Nadella, it was time to “move off.”
“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 wrote.
And, if his first public foray as Clipper owner is any indication, Ballmer has launched himself into sports ownership with a gusto once reserved for his annual CES speeches, characterized by his screaming monkey dances and lots of enthusiasm.
Ballmer officially closed the Clippers deal just a few days ago, paying a record $2 billion to secure it from disgraced longtime owner Donald Sterling, whose ownership became untenable after recordings of his racist comments surfaced in the spring. Sterling spent most of the summer contesting a hurried auction of the team, engineered by Sterling’s estranged wife, before a series of probate court rulings effectively sealed the sale.
Here’s Ballmer’s ESPN interview yesterday alongside Clippers head coach Doc Rivers: