Steve Ballmer: From screaming Microsoft exec to LA Clippers owner?

Story highlights

Ballmer was known for screaming and dancing at Microsoft meetings

He signed a binding agreement to buy the Los Angeles Clippers for $2 billion

His estimated worth is $20 billion, compared with Donald Sterling's $2 billion

Ballmer became friends with Bill Gates at Harvard, succeeded him as Microsoft CEO

CNN  — 

After weeks in limbo, the Los Angeles Clippers could shift hands from an embattled billionaire octogenarian to a former Microsoft CEO.

But unlike owner Donald Sterling, whose racist remarks hurled him into a vortex of public criticism, Steve Ballmer flew under the radar in recent months before he laid down a record $2 billion offer for the team.

Here are nine things to know about the man who could become the Clippers’ next owner:

He’s wealthier than Sterling.

A lot wealthier. Ballmer, 58, is worth $20 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Forbes put Sterling’s wealth at $2 billion.

Ballmer succeeded his buddy Bill Gates as Microsoft CEO.

He took the reins in 2000 from Gates, whom he became friends with at Harvard University in the 1970s. Ballmer earned a degree in mathematics and economics.

Gates, of course, didn’t graduate. But he seemed to do OK without a degree.

Ballmer’s years leading Microsoft were sometimes turbulent …

When Ballmer took over as CEO, Microsoft was the most valuable company in the world. But the company went on to lose more than half of its market value over the course of a decade.

Investors have been critical of Ballmer for failing to anticipate the mobile computing revolution.

… but there were also great times.

During Ballmer’s tenure,Windows 7 was the fastest-selling operating system of all time, and Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise businesses have stayed strong over the past decade.

According to Microsoft, the company tripled its revenue and doubled profits under Ballmer’s leadership.

He retired in February and has been spotted at Clippers games since.

He’s really animated.

Just watch how he takes the stage for a corporate presentation.

“Come on! Get up!” Ballmer screamed at one gathering as he danced and leaped across the floor. “Whoooooo! Come on! Give it up for me!”

By the time he took the podium, he barely had enough breath to say, “I love this company!”

So much so that he’s ripped his vocal cords.

Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that Ballmer has damaged his voice during his public displays of affection (for Microsoft).

According to The New York Times, Ballmer once shouted ”Windows! Windows!” so furiously at a sales meeting in Japan that he ripped his vocal cords, requiring surgery.

He’s from Motown but has a soft spot for LA.

Ballmer’s dad, Fred Ballmer, was a manager at Ford Motor Co. in Detroit. The son excelled academically there and became valedictorian of his high school class.

But he has reason to cheer for the 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,” Ballmer said in a statement after making his offer.

“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.”

Ballmer wasn’t the only bigwig eyeing the Clippers.

A group that included media moguls David Geffen and Oprah Winfrey also made a bid of $1.6 billion for the Clippers, a source told CNN.

This isn’t his first time trying to buy an NBA team.

Ballmer’s purchase of the Clippers would still have to be approved by 75% of the NBA’s 30 owners.

Last year, the owners denied the sale of the Sacramento Kings to a group that included Ballmer. That sale would have resulted in the Kings moving to Seattle, and the league’s relocation committee recommended keeping the team in Sacramento.

But with all the talk about changing ownership of the Clippers, Ballmer’s fate this time may turn out differently.

Sources: Donald Sterling found to be mentally incapacitated

CNN’s Brian Todd and CNNMoney’s David Goldman and contributed to this report.