Skip to Content

Steve Ballmer is either a big Twitter fan or he’s been hacked

Los Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer poses for a portrait in Culver City, Los AngelesLos Angeles Clippers owner Steve Ballmer poses for a portrait in Culver City, Los Angeles
LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer.Photograph by Lucy Nicholson — Reuters

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.04.36 AM

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.

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 10.04.51 AM

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.