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Steve Ballmer: Microsoft stock never got 'a chance to move' when I was CEO

  • The stock price is not something that you can control, unlike earnings, Ballmer said.
  • Ballmer thinks Satya Nadella has done a great job leading Microsoft in the past three years.

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said during an interview on Tuesday that he thinks the technology company's stock didn't have an opportunity to fluctuate when he was in charge.

"Frankly I don't think the stock price had a chance to move while I was CEO," Ballmer told CNBC's Jon Fortt in the interview, which aired on CNBC's Squawk Alley on Wednesday.

Ballmer was being humble; the stock price did see a considerable rise between 2009 and 2014, following a dive during the economic recession. That said, Microsoft's stock price has continued to go up under Ballmer's successor, Satya Nadella, who took over in February 2014.

Ballmer said he thought Microsoft did do its part to drive up earnings, specifically producing profits. "That's our controllable," he said. "The stock price is not a controllable."

Nadella has been doing an excellent job as Microsoft's CEO, he said.

Ballmer said he thought it was good that he stayed on the company's board when Nadella took over but then left the board when he bought the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team a few months later.

"I've only been back on the Microsoft campus once, I think, since I've retired," Ballmer said.

Speaking onstage on Tuesday at Recode's Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Ballmer had told Recode's Kara Swisher and Kurt Wagner that Microsoft did not do enough to develop hardware capability during his tenure. In the interview, Ballmer built on those comments, saying that under his leadership the company did make a big investment in the HoloLens augmented reality headset, which was released in 2015.

"Whether it's Microsoft or the competition, that's certainly what I've seen happen, but I'm glad to see energy happen on the topic, because it is the frontier of innovation," Ballmer said.

Facebook and Snap are among the companies incorporating AR features into their apps.