Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) founder Bill Gates is no longer the largest individual shareholder in the company he created. A fact that is even more startling is that in four years, his ownership stake will peter out. In a regulatory filing, it was stated that the former chief executive of Microsoft has a total of 330.1 million shares in the company. Ballmer, who retired in February, owns 333 million shares of the company, making him now Microsoft’s largest shareholder.

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Gates still the richest person

Ballmer overtook Gates to become the top shareholder of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) when the latter sold 4.6 million shares on April 30, revealed a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday, which was first noticed by GeekWire.

Till now, Gates has unloaded 80 million shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) annually for the past 12 years to fund the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. If Gates continues to do so, then by 2018, he will have no direct ownership in the company that he created.

However, Gates is still the richest person in the world with an approximate net worth of $76 billion. Bill Gates has promised to donate a major portion of his wealth to charity. He has already given away $28 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which takes up causes like the eradication of polio, malaria, and other dangerous diseases.

In a list released by Forbes, Bill Gates holds the title of the richest person, outperforming telecom mogul Carlos Slim. Gates has been on top 15 times in the past 20 years. According to Forbes, there are 1,645 billionaires in the world, out of which 172 are women and 492 are in the United States. Approximately 66% of these billionaires are self-made, 13% have inherited and 21% have added to their previous wealth.

Reflects the changes at Microsoft

Daniel Ives, analyst at FBR Capital Markets & CO, tells Bloomberg, “It’s not an event in and of itself, but it is symbolic in that it speaks to what has taken place at Microsoft over the last 10 years. There’s been a passing of the guard.”

According to the Financial Times, since 1975 this is the first time when Bill Gates does not hold the maximum number of shares in Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT).  Ex-CEO Steve Ballmer was the 30th employee of Bill Gates and his first business manager.