Bill Gates, the founder, board member and technology advisor of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) lost his position as the largest individual shareholder of the company after selling 4.6 million shares based on a regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

His friend and retired CEO, Steve Ballmer is now the largest individual shareholder of the software giant. Ballmer owns 333.1 million shares of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) while Gates owns 330.1 million shares in the company.

Market observers were not surprised regarding the changing of the guard at Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) because Gates has been selling his shares to fund his philanthropic projects in education and global health under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets told 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.”

Ballmer was also telling to some people privately that he would soon become the largest individual shareholder of the company. Many believed it is one of the reason behind his continued commitment and involvement in Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) despite his retirement last February 4. Satya Nadella replaced Ballmer as CEO. Gates stepped down as chairman and assumed the role of a technology advisor.

When Ballmer announced his decision to retire in an e-mail to the employees of the software giant last August, he wrote, “I cherish my Microsoft ownership, and look forward to continuing as one of Microsoft’s largest owners.”

Gates convinced Ballmer to join the software giant and drop out Stanford University’s business school in 1980. He started as the no. 30 employee of Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) and rose to the ranks until he took over Gates role as CEO in 2000.

According to Bloomberg, Ballmer collected approximately $3.4 billion from selling his shares in the company since its initial public offering (IPO) in 1986.  He has an estimated network of $18.9 billion, based on Bloomberg Billionaire Index.