Steve Ballmer says he began buying up Twitter before he knew Jack Dorsey would become CEO

Hey, it worked out.
Hey, it worked out.
Image: AP Photo/Justin Sullivan
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Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer made headlines last week when he revealed he bought a 4% stake in Twitter. Many took it as a huge vote of confidence for Twitter’s new CEO, Jack Dorsey—the stock shot up 4.5% on the news—but Ballmer says he took his position before he knew Dorsey was taking over.

That said, he seems happy with the company’s choice. “I had some faith that they absolutely could have the right guy come in as CEO,” Ballmer, who also owns the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, said in an interview with Bloomberg TV today (Oct. 23).

For Ballmer, Twitter was appealing precisely because it was struggling—the stock had slid in recent months as investors grew impatient with its CEO search. “If they were doing everything perfectly, I’m not sure it would have been a good buy,” he said. “And the fact that maybe they weren’t doing as good a job really points to the opportunity. … They have a chance to make great improvements, which is where I think shareholder value can get created.”

Ballmer said he’s not interested in a board seat, but characterized himself as a “friendly activist” investor. “I will say what I think, and the company will do what it wants,” he added. “Of course, at the end of the day, at least in my case, I believe profit is a requirement for sustainable market cap.” Not a radical idea, but something Twitter appears a long way from achieving.