Ballmer owns four percent of Twitter

steve-ballmer-tongue-540x334The shy and retired former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer now owns a big chunk of Twitter.

Ballmer has a four percent stake in Twitter according to his spokesman, making him the third biggest individual shareholder in the social notworking outfit. In other news Ballmer has become so shy that he has hired someone else to do his speaking for him.

To put this in some perspective, 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.

Shares of Twitter rose 5.6 percent to $31.34 on Friday, hours after Ballmer tweeted he built up his stake over the past several months. After all, if Steve invested a pile of dosh in the outfit, it must have a future – just like Nokia.

Ballmer’s tweet praised 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 focused,” the tweet said. “Glad I bought 4% past few months.”

Ballmer has $21.5 billion in his piggy bank, making him the 35th richest person in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

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

It is an odd time to be optimistic about Twitter. Last week Twitter said it will lay off about eight percent of its workforce and on Wednesday, it hired Google executive Omid Kordestani as executive chairman.

FBN Securities analyst Shebly Seyrafi reckoned Ballmer’s stake could be indicative of widespread confidence in Dorsey and his strategy. Surprisingly this is not the kiss of death that many would expect.