Steve Ballmer takes four percent stake in Twitter, owns more than CEO

Steve Ballmer shakes hands on his way out as he attends the annual shareholders' meeting in Bellevue, Washington December 3, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Redmond/Files

Former Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Steve Ballmer has taken a 4 percent stake in Twitter Inc, according to his spokesman, making him the third-biggest individual shareholder in the social media company.

Ballmer‘s stake is worth more than $800 million based on Twitter’s $21 billion market value. Only co-founder Evan Williams and Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal have greater stakes among individual investors.

Shares of Twitter rose 5.6 percent to $31.34 on Friday, hours after Ballmer tweeted from a non-verified account that he built up his stake over the past several months.

His tweet lauded Twitter’s new ‘Moments’ feature, which curates the best tweets of the day, and Dorsey’s appointment as permanent CEO last week.

“Good job @twitter, @twittermoments innovation, @jack Ceo, leaner, more focussed,” the tweet said. “Glad I bought 4% past few months.”

Twitter declined to comment. Ballmer himself did not return requests for comment.

Ballmer, who bought the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team after retiring as Microsoft CEO in February 2014, has a personal fortune of about $21.5 billion, making him the 35th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

However, his backing as an investor is no guarantee of success for Twitter. Ballmer famously laughed at Apple Inc’s first iPhone, and shares of Microsoft declined over the 14 years of his leadership.

Ballmer now owns more of Twitter than co-founder and CEO Dorsey, who has a 3.2 percent stake, according to Thomson Reuters data. Williams is the largest individual shareholder with about 7.5 percent, followed by Alwaleed with about 5.2 percent.

Like @alwaleedbinT move too,” Ballmer‘s tweet said. Alwaleed and his investment firm, Kingdom Holding Co, said earlier this month they had raised their stake in Twitter to more than 5 percent.

Ballmer‘s investment is a sign that Twitter’s efforts to revive growth under Dorsey is being appreciated, Monness, Crespi, Hardt, & Co Inc analyst James Cakmak said.

“I think it’s just another point of evidence that the step that they are taking to redirect the business toward growth is resonating,” Cakmak said.

Twitter has made several new announcements since Dorsey, who also served as CEO in 2008, returned on a permanent basis last week. On Tuesday, Twitter said it will lay off about 8 percent of its workforce and on Wednesday, it hired Google Inc executive Omid Kordestani as executive chairman.

FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi said Ballmer‘s stake could be indicative of widespread confidence in Dorsey and his strategy.

“It depends on the timing of his investment. I’m not sure how much of his 4 percent was acquired before Dorsey was appointed interim or permanent CEO.”

(Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb in San Francisco and Anya George Tharakan, Devika Krishna Kumar and Lehar Maan in Bengaluru; Editing by Ted Kerr, Savio D’Souza and Bill Rigby)

Reuters

Also Read: Twitter appoints Jack Dorsey CEO, seeks new chairman

Twitter poaches Google executive Kordestani for chairman post

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
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