What do Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison, and Magic Johnson have in common? They're all interested in buying the Los Angeles Clippers from embattled owners Shelly and Donald Sterling. The auction, said to be a blind bidding process in which those bidding do not know what their competition has offered, is moving quickly, with the Sterlings looking to unload the NBA franchise after Donald's racist comments led to his being forcibly removed from the leadership of the team. Ballmer's interest in the team isn't new, but according to Forbes the former Microsoft CEO is offering $1.8 billion.
Sterling paid $12.5 million for the Clippers back in 1981, so the sale, regardless of how it turns out, will net him a return on the investment. A sale for $1.8 billion would be 144 times the 1981 purchase price.
It's clear where Ballmer — whose net worth is estimated to be around $20 billion — and Oracle CEO Ellison (net worth: $43 billion) are finding their money. But Magic Johnson? He did well with the Los Angeles Lakers, but not that well. Johnson is tied up with investment group Guggenheim Partners, with whom he bought the MLB's Dodgers last year for $2 billion.
The other former Microsoft CEO, Bill Gates, on the other hand, is using his many more billions buying things too. Like working to eradicate malaria. But it's Ballmer's money, he can spend it on an NBA team without a championship to its name in a city with another team that has 16 such championships if he really wants to.
Update: Steve Ballmer has bid $2 billion to buy the Los Angeles Clippers. His offer has beat out bids of $1.6 billion and $1.2 billion from investment groups backed by the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Larry Elison and others. This does not mean Ballmer has bought the Clippers, just that he's offered to pay the most for the team. The current owners of the Clippers will need to accept the offer in order for the sale to move forward. If accepected by Clipper owners and approval of three-fourths of the other NBA owners, the sale would be the largest in NBA history. Source: LA Times
Update 2: NBA.com is reporting that Steve Ballmer has reached an agreement with Shelly Sterling to buy the Clippers for $2 billion. Source: [NBA](/Shelly Sterling reached an agreement)
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Derek Kessler is Special Projects Manager for Mobile Nations. He's been writing about tech since 2009, has far more phones than is considered humane, still carries a torch for Palm, and got a Tesla because it was the biggest gadget he could find. You can follow him on Twitter at @derekakessler.