Millions of Microsoft shares dumped by Bill Gates in 2010

Photo of Bill Gates

Bill Gates is dumping his Microsoft stock. CC by World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons

Bill Gates has been dipping into his vast reservoir of Microsoft stock and dumping shares for cash. Gates has unloaded such a big chunk of his Microsoft holdings that other Microsoft shareholders could question the value of their investment. Gates no doubt would rather place his bets on a faster horse as Microsoft declines from technology leader to also-ran.

No investment made with Microsoft

The Microsoft stock has been sold by Bill Gates. This February he has already sold 10 million shares. Gates has been selling Microsoft shares over the last year. Ninety million were sold in just the last year. The interest in the company has been reduced by 22 percent by Gates. Microsoft made Gates the richest man in the world, but Microsoft shares have stagnated for about 10 years. Rates for shares in Google, Amazon, Netflix, Apple and other companies have gone up a lot. There would be a 2.74 percent five-year annual return on Microsoft stock for those who invested money in 2001 and cashed it out now. Investment in Apple stock would have done much better; the five-year return would be 38.8 percent.

Gates involvement in Microsoft

With 591 million Microsoft shares, Bill Gates is still the largest stockholder. He holds about 7 percent of 8.4 billion outstanding Microsoft shares. Microsoft holdings are being diversified, according to company officials. But since Gates stepped away from Microsoft to become a philanthropist via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has watched the company come out on the wrong side of the most important trends in technology. Microsoft has tried to compete with smartphones, online music, tablet PCs and social networking, but it has been one step behind other companies.

Microsoft shares sold by CEO Ballmer

Company CEO Steve Ballmer may have taken the Bill Gates Microsoft sell-off as a message. Microsoft hasn’t been doing very well with Ballmer as CEO for the past 11 years. Ballmer says he has put together plans that would completely change management. He will be promoting engineers and product specialists to management, while marketing executives won’t be as lucky. That might keep investors happy for a while. It isn’t something Gates is excited about, though. Ballmer can only hope investors don’t follow Gates’ example en masse. Ballmer himself has sold 49.3 million in shares of Microsoft stock worth about $1.3 billion.


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