With Steve Ballmer on the verge of owning a professional basketball franchise in Southern California, many have wondered if the former Microsoft CEO and longtime Washington resident will leave the Pacific Northwest for good.
It’s a concern that my colleague John Cook shared last month, noting how many thought Ballmer would stick around town to invest in the region’s tech, startup and philanthropic organizations.
But it seems as though Ballmer wants to call Seattle home for the rest of his life.
Speaking today at the University of Washington commencement, the 58-year old squashed any speculation that he would move away.
“You are all in an amazing spot, at an amazing time, and are able to make an amazing difference,” Ballmer told the 2014 graduates. “I have a lot of faith — particularly as a citizen of Seattle who loves living in the Northwest and is committed to being here for the rest of my life — that the fate of Seattle, the fate of Washington, the fate of the world is in the hands of the class of 2014 at the University of Washington. Please do a good job with it. We need you.”
Ballmer could perhaps use his $20 billion of net worth to inject some capital in his hometown of Detroit, or maybe invest in opportunities near Los Angeles.
But the Seattle community would clearly benefit if Ballmer decided to invest in the area. If he does so, Ballmer will follow in the footsteps of Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, who have stuck around town and funneled some of their fortunes back into Seattle-based organizations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Seattle Seahawks.