Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Signs Deal To Buy LA Clippers For $2 Billion


Steve Ballmer has made his first post-Microsoft move with a deal to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion, the former owners announced Friday.

Donald Sterling agreed last week to allow his wife, Shelley Sterling, to conduct the sale of the team after the league moved to force a sale.

When Steve Ballmer left Microsoft, he had an estimated net worth of $20 billion. Other offers for the team included a $1.2 million offer from Los Angeles-based investors Tony Ressler and Bruce Karsh and $1.6 million from a group led by David Geffen, the owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

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"I will be honored to have my name submitted to the NBA Board of Governors for approval as the next owner of the Los Angeles Clippers. I love basketball. And I intend to do everything in my power to ensure that the Clippers continue to win – and win big – in Los Angeles. LA is one of the world's great cities – a city that embraces inclusiveness, in exactly the same way that the NBA and I embrace inclusiveness.  I am confident that the Clippers will in the coming years become an even bigger part of the community," Ballmer said in a prepared statement.

The deal will be final after approval from three-quarters of the NBA owners.

Rick Jordan, director of sales and strategic alliances at Toronto-based Tenet Computer Group, a Microsoft partner, said it's great to see Ballmer's next chapter as buying the LA Clippers, following on many other technology executives, such as Mark Cuban, getting into the sports space.

"It's good that he's doing something he obviously loves. It's one of those things, if you're an owner and can do something you obviously love and appreciate, it's pretty powerful. For Ballmer, the next chapter is buying the LA Clippers," Jordan said.

Assuming the deal does go through, Ballmer's role at the LA Clippers will be similar to when he took the helm at Microsoft, David Powell, vice president of managed and cloud services at TekLinks, said. When Ballmer became CEO at Microsoft, he was entering a company with a role of "don't screw this up," Powell said. The Clippers are in a similar situation, he said, with strong players and many playoffs wins.

"The results at Microsoft were spotty as it relates to his ability to not screw it up and keep it on a certain track, so we'll see in this part role well see how he does," Powell said.

"As long as the LA Clippers don’t have a tablet strategy on their horizon, they're going to be fine," Powell joked.

Powell predicted that Ballmer's approach to leadership at the Clippers might be a little different than at the tech giant. Technology is Ballmer's expertise, he said, where in sports he might be a little more of an outsider. Powell predicted that Ballmer would probably take a more "hands-off" role at the Clippers, deferring leadership roles more to coaches and experts. 

Powell wishes Ballmer the best in his next endeavor.

"Frankly it doesn’t mean anything to us. It comes down to he's turning the next page and hopefully it works out well for him," Jordan said.

PUBLISHED MAY 30, 2014