#bill gates

Bill Gates in the summer of 1998 (from the same brilliant joint-inteview with Warren Buffett that I keep linking to):

Sometimes we do get taken by surprise. For example, when the Internet came along, we had it as a fifth or sixth priority. It wasn’t like somebody told me about it and I said, “I don’t know how to spell that.” I said, “Yeah, I’ve got that on my list, so I’m okay.” But there came a point when we realized it was happening faster and was a much deeper phenomenon than had been recognized in our strategy. So as an act of leadership I had to create a sense of crisis, and we spent a couple of months throwing ideas and E-mail around, and we went on some retreats. Eventually a new strategy coalesced, and we said, “Okay, here’s what we’re going to do; here’s how we’re going to measure ourselves internally; and here’s what the world should think about what we’re going to do.”

That kind of crisis is going to come up every three or four years. You have to listen carefully to all the smart people in the company. That’s why a company like ours has to attract a lot of people who think in different ways, it has to allow a lot of dissent, and then it has to recognize the right ideas and put some real energy behind them.

The first bit is important because it shows that disruption doesn’t always completely blindside those in power. Often times it’s just a matter of something happening far quicker than an incumbent realizes.

A great example of this with Microsoft isn’t just the internet as Gates describes above, but smartphones. Microsoft had Windows Mobile in prime position, but it wasn’t quite the “right idea” as Gates puts it. And once they realized that and came around to the right idea, it was far too late.

I think the multiples of technology stocks should be quite a bit lower than the multiples of stocks like Coke and Gillette, because we are subject to complete changes in the rules. I know very well that in the next ten years, if Microsoft is still a leader, we will have had to weather at least three crises.

Bill Gates, in a joint-interview with Warren Buffett, in the summer of 1998 — before the Bubble burst, of course.

The whole interview is pure gold.

[via @ElliotTurn]

Michael J. De La Merced and Bill Carter talking to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts:

Mr. Roberts recalled that when Bill Gates invested $1 billion in his company in 1997, the Microsoft billionaire told him that data would be a bigger business than video one day.

“I didn’t know what he was talking about then, but he was right,” Mr. Roberts said.

Three things:

1) Bill Gates invested $1 billion into Comcast in 1997?! Yep. He did. (That $1 billion gave Microsoft an 11.5% stake in Comcast at the time. That stake would be worth something like $15 billion today, but the company sold the stake in 2008.)

2) The Comcast investment was right before Gates invested $150 million into Apple, seemingly on its deathbed.

3) Bill Gates is a genius with impeccable timing.

Andy Borowitz:

After failing to install the upgrade by lunchtime, Mr. Gates summoned the new Microsoft C.E.O. Satya Nadella, who attempted to help him with the installation, but with no success.

While the two men worked behind closed doors, one source described the situation as “tense.”

“Bill is usually a pretty calm guy, so it was weird to hear some of that language coming out of his mouth,” the source said.

A Microsoft spokesman said only that Mr. Gates’s first day in his new job had been “a learning experience” and that, for the immediate future, he would go back to running Windows 7.

So good.

Bill Gates:

Child mortality went down—again. One of the yearly reports I keep an eye out for is “Levels and Trends in Child Mortality.” The title doesn’t sound especially uplifting, but the 2013 report shows amazing progress—for example, half as many children died in 2012 as in 1990. That’s the biggest decline ever recorded. And hardly anyone knows about it!

Any way you slice it, that’s insanely good news. The poverty rate numbers are pretty striking as well.

Taylor Soper:

The Microsoft co-founder said that there was an option to make a single button for such a command, but the IBM keyboard designer didn’t want to give Microsoft a single button. So Microsoft decided to use “Ctrl+Alt+Del” as a way to log into Windows. “It was a mistake,” Gates said, drawing a big laugh from the crowd.

Sort of amazing that such a user-unfriendly key sequence became a mainstream thing.

A fascinating, in-depth look by Wesley Yin-Poole for Eurogamer.net. One humorous bit at the beginning from 2001 when Bill Gates was about to give the keynote at the Tokyo Game Show:

Backstage, Gates turned to Kevin Bachus, at the time Xbox director of third party relations and the man charged with getting all those Japanese executives out there in the audience to make games for Microsoft’s new console. “Here, hold this,” Gates said, pulling out his wallet. “I don’t like having anything in my pocket when I’m talking.”

Suddenly, Bachus was holding the wallet of the richest man in the world. It felt thin, as if only a credit card and a driver’s license were inside. “I was terrified to even open it,” he remembers over a decade later. “But of course that’s all you need when you’re a billionaire right?”