From its humble beginnings as a software developer for the burgeoning personal computer industry in 1975 to one of the most powerful and profitable worldwide corporations, Microsoft is one of the greatest corporate success stories of all time. Microsoft released its FY19 Q1 earnings on October 24, 2018. The software and tech company reported $29.1 billion in revenue, a 15.8% increase/decrease from $24.5 billion from the same time last year.

The largest shareholders of the company include both current executives and former company leaders. 

Steve Ballmer

While former CEO Steve Ballmer was not among the founders of Microsoft, he is the largest shareholder, owning more than 300 million shares. The key to Ballmer's holdings is in his early compensation package when he was the company's 30th employee, hired as a business manager by Bill Gates. 

On his first day on the job, , Ballmer received an equity stake in Microsoft. When Microsoft incorporated in 1981, Ballmer owned 8% of the company. Ballmer was named CEO of Microsoft in January 2000, taking over from Gates.

Bill Gates

Chairman and former CEO of Microsoft, Bill Gates is the headliner of several wealthiest people lists, with an approximate net worth of $94.9 billion according to Forbes on October 24, 2018. Although Gates has sold or given away much of his stake in the company, Microsoft's co-founder still owns 103 million shares, according the Gates' most recent SEC filing on June 30, 2017.

In May of 2017, Gates donated 64 million shares of his Microsoft stock, worth $6.4 billion at the time. To date, Gates has sold $35.8 billion worth of Microsoft Stock to fund the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Gates and his wife Melinda began the philanthropic organization in 1997 and continue to lead its mission to improve lives in the poorest countries in the world. The private foundation focuses on health issues, such as the eradication of malaria and polio, and controlling the spread of tuberculosis and HIV. In November 2017, Gates made a $50 million donation to the Dementia Discover Fund to help fund Alzheimer's research. If Gates continues to gift shares at this rate, his stake in Microsoft may be reduced to zero by 2019.

Mason Morfit 

Mason Morfit is a former member of Microsoft's Board of Directors, where he was the youngest appointee by over a decade. Morfit's term on the board ended on November 29, 2017, during the annual Microsoft shareholders meeting. As of November 28, 2017, Morfit owns 9.01 million shares of Microsoft held indirectly through the company ValueAct, where Morfit was named Chief Investment Officer in May 2017. 

Satya Nadella 

Satya Nadella took over for Steve Ballmer as CEO of Microsoft in 2014. Before taking the helm at Microsoft, Nadella was executive vice president of one of the company’s fastest-growing businesses, the Cloud and Enterprise group. Since taking over as CEO, company share prices have reached a 15-year high and projects such as the Windows 10 operating system and the Surface Book have performed well. According to Nadella's most recent SEC filing on September 18, 2018, the Microsoft CEO holds 938,992 shares of the company.

Bradford Smith

Bradford Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of the company, is the fourth-largest individual shareholder of Microsoft stock. Before joining Microsoft in 1993, he was an associate and then partner at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C. In addition to his position at Microsoft, Smith serves on the board of directors at Netflix and chairs several non-profit organizations. Smith owns 937,658 shares of the company, according to an August 31, 2018 filing from the SEC.