LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.
Photograph by Lucy Nicholson — Reuters

Former Microsoft CEO and current LA Clippers owner either just bought a 4% stake in Twitter or he's been hacked.

By Barb Darrow and Mathew Ingram
October 16, 2015

Former Microsoft MSFT chief executive Steve Ballmer seems to be a big Twitter fan: An account that allegedly belongs to the billionaire LA Clippers owner said on Friday that he has acquired a 4% stake in the company—but there is some doubt about whether the account is legitimate, or whether Ballmer has been hacked.

The account isn’t officially verified. But another account belonging to Ballmer that is—@clippersteveb—directed his followers to the new account several weeks ago, and the new account is followed by Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey. The new account has tweeted only a few times, about basketball, Microsoft and Twitter.

Those factors don’t necessarily mean the account is legitimate, however. For one thing, Twitter users don’t have to direct their followers to a new account when they change their handle—anyone who has followed them is redirected to the new account automatically.

And while the account that tweeted about the 4% stake has responded to several followers questioning whether it’s real or not, it seems unlikely that the real Ballmer would take the time to do this.

Also, a 4% stake in Twitter would cost approximately $800 million, given the current market value of the company. That would be a rather large bet even for someone with Ballmer’s wealth—and it would be just under the 5% required for an SEC filing, which makes it seem even more likely to be fake, since it would make the investment impossible to confirm.

Note: Ballmer’s account has now been verified, and he has confirmed that the tweet is real. More information here.

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