Sunday, December 16, 2007

Focus Assignment

To many, Bill Gates is just a billionaire with a humongous mansion. However, people often forget that in order to reach the top, he had to work for countless hours with determination. In his quest for success, Gates had to deal with many lawsuits filed against him. He had to take many risks, never being sure if he was wasting time and money on unprofitable projects. However, with luck, intelligence, and gambling skills, he was able to earn billions. Being able to endure difficulties and never giving up on his dreams, he was able to achieve his goals, becoming one of the most powerful, admired, and wealthy people in the world.

Bill Gates became fascinated with computers in grade seven. Back then, he was a computer geek teased for his appearance: rumpled, with oversized glasses. Many years later, when Gates was asked whether he considered himself a nerd, he said, “if nerd means you can enjoy understanding the insides of a computer and sit in front of it for hours … and enjoy it.” Gates often skipped classes at Harvard in the early 1970s, but when he did attend, he paid little attention. He developed his gambling talents through playing poker with his friends in college. He dropped out of college after two years, to found Microsoft with his friend Paul Allen. Gates later said, “Our greatest success is due to [my willingness] to bet the whole company on the graphical interface.” Gates is very competitive, destructively so. His fear of failure urges him not only to win against his competitors, but also to destroy them, often buying up other companies in his industry, believing that if he can’t beat them, he must make them his.

Bill Gates is a tough, efficient, and brilliant negotiator. Gates loves strategy, planning his moves while understanding the big picture, in both business and technology. He has a fiery temper. In project briefings, Gates asks difficult questions, throws things, or screams, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of!” Acknowledged as a very egotistic man, he brags about defeating his business competitors. He dismissed many celebrities because they weren’t as intelligent and famous as him. Gates was a renowned womanizer before he got married. However, he rarely dated during college. Instead, he visited strip clubs.

To many people, Bill Gates’ huge success may have come as a surprise. First, many people with fiery tempers don’t succeed in business. Second, Gates rarely paid attention in class; he was able to succeed without much college education, not needing conventional paths to success. However, these factors reveal how he was able to succeed. His temper allowed him to expect the best from and motivate his employees. His ego made him want to prove himself to be the best. Although his ego makes him seem unpleasant, he is actually very sympathetic, having created the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help the poor. Gates is an admirable person who is really more than what meets the eye.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

In My Impression...

Although I have always heard many references to Bill Gates, I have to admit I don't know much about him. This caused me to become curious and determined to learn about him.

Here's what I already know about Bill Gates before reading his biography:
• He is the Chairman of the Microsoft Co.
• He is incredibly rich
• He has a humongous mansion

Pitch #1

Page 1 - 30

  • Microsoft spent more than a quarter of a billion dollars on the biggest and noisiest product launch in the history of the computer industry - the Windows 95 launch
  • very serious about advertising
  • for the Windows 95 launch, Gates invited about 500 journalists and dozens of television crews from more than 30 countries
  • different advertisements in many countriesexamples are as follows:
  • bought the entire press run of the Times of London and on launch day gave away 1.5 million copies free -> "Windows 95. So Good Even the Time Is Complimentary."
  • gave a free copy of Windows 95 to all babies born on launch day
  • Toronto -> a 500-foot banner pitching Windows 95 was unfurled on one side of the Canadian National Tower
  • New York City -> paid to have the 102-story Empire State Building bathed in the logo colours of Windows 95
  • etc.
  • very competitive
  • a computer geek who was once ridiculed for his personal appearance
  • by 1995, Bill Gates' wealth was approaching $20 billion
  • Forbes named him the world's 2nd richest individual in 1994
  • was named the world's richest individual a year after
  • one of the world's most powerful
  • so well known internationally that he conducted his own foreign policy
  • called on China's president and other world leaders during business trips abroad
  • socialized with Warren Buffett, his friend who was named the world's richest individual in 1994 by Forbes
  • played golf with the president
  • wanted to be taken seriously, as a visionary, as a statesman, as an adult
  • college dropout
  • founded Microsoft with buddy Paul Allen at age 19
  • crushed all competitors
  • Internet = Gates' greatest enemy that he has ever faced before
  • attended college in the early 1970s
  • often skipped classes
  • when he did go to his classes, he paid little attention
  • in 1975, at Harvard, Bill Gates and his childhood pal Paul Allen had hunkered down in the Aiken Computer Center and spent 8 weeks working day and night to develop a high-level computer language for the first microprocessing chip à their software program, called BASIC, became the foundation of Microsoft Co., which they soon found in the high desert of Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • it had been less than 3 years since Gates had met with some workers from Lotus in Boston after the Computer Bowl (annual battle of wits for software execs) for what in industry lore became known as the “Gates Date” and had predicted that IBM would fold within 7 years
  • on January 20, 1993, with 303 million shares outstanding, and selling at a price of $88.375 a share, Microsoft’s market value was $26.78 billion à Microsoft overtook IBM in total market value by $0.02 billion
  • Microsoft now the world’s greatest computer industry company
  • it ranked 14th among all public companies
  • made Gates the most hated man in the industry and Microsoft the most feared competitor or “predator”
  • Gates had started out as only a low-level soldier in the information age revolution, but now towered over the industry
  • had gained the kind of power and influence over an industry
  • both his fame and his fortune were growing at an astronomical rate
  • Gates sold off nearly a half billion dollars of his stock each year, making investments that only a select few people knew about
  • Microsoft was selling a million copies a month
  • by end of 1992, Microsoft had captured an astounding 44% share of the software market à at the end of 1991, Microsoft had 29% of the market
  • in early February 1993, at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, Washington, Bill Gates was sitting in his office across from Thomas Murphy, chairman of the board of Capital Cities/ABC à offered if Gates would like to be the next chairman of IBM
  • Gates was fully committed to Microsoft and was not interested
  • a poker player when he was at Harvard

Pitch #2

Pg. 31 - 60

  • when he got the news that the headquarters in Redmond had exploded, “Bill just went through the roof. He went ballistic. He was so mad he was actually throwing things,” said one Microsoft manager (page 31)
  • he was so upset that he didn’t wait to launch into an angry attack on Novell (the ringleader of a handful of disgruntled Microsoft competitors who had been complaining to the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and stroking the fires of its antitrust investigation) and its chief executive, Raymond Noorda
  • real name: William Henry Gates III
  • Fox à his biggest acquisition ever à paid $173 million
  • by buying Fox, Microsoft was able to go after some of Borland’s customers immediately, essentially striking another blow against Gates’s archenemy Philippe Kahn, Borland’s founder. The 2 industry pioneers were like matter and antimatter à bring them together, EXPLOSION!
  • Microsoft’s power = power of Nazi Germany
  • when Kahn commented that Microsoft used unfair tactics to maintain its stranglehold on the market, Gates confronted him by demanding, “What exactly did you mean by that?” as he poked his finger at Borland’s chairman
  • Kahn said, “Gates looks at everything as something that should be his. He acts in any way he can to make it his. It can be an idea, market share, or a contract. There is not an ounce of conscientiousness or compassion in him. The notion of fairness means nothing to him. The only thing he understands is leverage.”
  • Gates wanted to buy Novell, his longtime fierce rival à highly suspicious
  • Gates wanted a beachhead in a market that it didn’t control – the software that linked computers to networks
  • when Novell captured nearly 70% of the market with its networking software, Microsoft’s network software lagged far behind à Gates once again played the if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-buy-‘em card
  • Gates offered to buy Novell for about $2 billion, and Gates met with Noorda to work out the details
  • but Gates soon had second thoughts: when Noorda didn’t hear anything from Gates, he called him to find out whether the merger was still on à it wasn’t à not practical to merge the companies, there were too many technical problems à Gates worried about potential antitrust problems
  • Noorda believed the merger had been a ruse all along and that Gates had used the talks to gain access to confidential information about the company’s networking business
  • Gary Kildall, Bill Gates’s friend, also a software pioineer who had founded Digital Research and developed an operating system then widely in use – CP/M, described Microsoft’s DOS (Microsoft’s operating system) as a “clone” of CP/M
  • he wrote of Gates, “I have grown up in this industry with Gates. He is divisive. He is manipulative. He is a user. He has taken much from me and the industry. To those who knew the industry, Gates’s DOS was a blatant misappropriation of proprietary materials, and of my personal pride and achievements.”
  • Gates met Noorda briefly in San Francisco to discuss the merger à before the merger could go forward, he said Novell had to drop its plans to buy Digital Research. à when Noorda raised the possibility that the Justice Department might try to block a merger between the first and third biggest software companies on the planet, Gates responded, “Don’t worry, we know how to handle the federal government.” à Gates denied every saying such a thing
  • because Microsoft didn’t merge with Novell, the FTC investigators figured Gates was up to his old business tricks and had engaged Novell in talks in an attempt to delay its purchase of DR DOS
  • when asked about the FTC investigation, Gates had remarked that the worst thing that could happen to him was that he would trip going up the steps of the FTC building
  • Gates’s parents had long been active in Republican Party politics, Gates had remained apolitical for much of his adult life, though he considered himself to be more liberal than his parents
  • Bill Gates had voted for Clinton in the 1992 presidential election
  • Gates said, “Our greatest success is due to one single fact… that I was willing to bet the whole company on the graphical interface.”
  • FTC’s Bureau of Competition say him as Darth Vader, the Bureau of Economics saw him as Luke Skywalker and was dead set against taking any action against Microsoft
  • critics complained that Microsoft had grown so powerful that it dominated emerging new markets, stifling competition in a vibrant industry where entrepreneurship is considered the key to long-term health
  • in the eyes of one FTC economist, Microsoft was a national treasure that needed to be preserved, and a drawn-out antitrust action could severely damage the company, not reform it
  • more than 500 companies had been formed to create software for Windows, and those companies employed about 18,000 people nationwide
  • Commissioner Owen liked and respected Gates à “He stuck me as a man who knew his business and was passionate about his business. That is in marked contrast to a lot of corporate people whom I have seen while I have been here at the commission, and in marked contrast to some of the corporate people I spoke with on this matter who didn’t seem to know their business at all. I was stunned at some of the representations that people came in here and made to me.”

Pitch #3

Pg. 61-90

  • in an interview, Commissioner Owen commented, "At some point, one wonders if taxpayer money is being well spent by constantly looking and looking and looking and hoping you will one day find something... This was gross abuse of government power. This business of duplicating what we did after 38 months of investigation was unheard of, absolutely unheard of." --> Bill Gates's enemies hope to one day find some dirt on him by investigating and digging up without much success
  • Antitrust Division in the Justice Department of FTC wanted to take action against Microsoft for monopolization
  • no one who understood the deep competitive fires that drove Bill Gates expected him to make it easy for the Antitrust Division to get a win in the lawsuit, however small
  • in the end, Gates did not lose, neither in business nor in the courtroom
  • he and Anne Bingaman, the head of the Antitrust Division, were like two very powerful locomotives speeding toward each other on the same track, and neither was going to move to a side track and let the other pass
  • tardiness had become a fashionable habit for Gates
  • he was arriving late more often than not to give speeches
  • he had even been late for his talk at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas in November 1992 à showgoers and fans had lined up hours in advance to hear him talk, only to wait even longer for the computer industry’s biggest name to take center stage
  • he likes fast pace
  • he loved to take his Porsche or his red Ferrari 348 out late at night and race at breakneck speed into the Cascade foothills east of Redmond
  • the attention surrounding the visit by Gates rivaled that of a rock star when he came to give speeches to the public
  • to members of the computer club, Gates was one of their own; he shared their vision; he spoke their language
  • he was a rumpled, hyperkinetic nerd with oversized glasses who had become fascinated with computers as a seventh-grader in private school in Seattle
  • he now stood at the pinnacle of the industry, casting a giant shadow over even once-mighty IBM
  • he was the computer industry’s grand master of chess, always looking ahead, plotting tens of moves in advance
  • when Bill Gates wasn’t spending valuable brain time on Microsoft’s antitrust problems, much of Gates’s attention had been focused on the role Microsoft would play when the cable and entertainment industries took advantage of interactive television and other cutting-edge technology to deliver information on demand into millions of homes across the land; it promised to be a dazzling multimedia future; Gates wanted to move Microsoft beyond the desktop, exploiting the company’s hegemony to shape the future that he imagined
  • he wanted to write a book about the potential of the ‘information highway’ built by Microsoft
  • for many years, Gates had refused to even own a television, preferring instead to spend his time reading books and magazines
  • now he saw in the future a ‘marriage’ between television and the personal computer, a crossover between compute and consumer electronics
  • he believed that the television would become the general-purpose entertainment and information device – a newspaper, a TV guide, a phone book, and a textbook for the kids
  • Gates liked to know everything he could about a competitor or a friend
  • when it came to business, he looked for every advantage
  • Gates said in an interview with Forbes, “We’re interested in getting together with anyone who might have thoughts about how technology will come together with content. A lot of those people happen to be in Hollywood.”
  • his voice = high-pitched and boyish
  • in his ideal future: 1. communications technology would liberate computers from the desktop 2. digital information would be available anywhere, anytime, beamed to devices that hardly resembled computers anymore 3. people would soon be able to talk back to their televisions, ending the era of passive entertainment 4. a pocket-size computer would make the leather wallet obsolete
  • soon, Gates’s vision of Microsoft’s dominance included the home television using Microsoft’s software
  • he wanted it all
  • Gates met several movie stars, including Barbra Streisand and Kevin Costner
  • Gates also spent time with writer Michael Crichton
  • “Bill found most Hollywood celebrities to be rather boring” because he was more famous than most of the stars he met
  • movie stars didn’t have the high bandwidth intelligence that Gates most prized in those he like and got along with

Pitch #4

Pg. 91-120 19

  • Gates respected John Malone, the chairman of Tele-Communications Inc.; they were alike in many ways
  • understood both business and the technology
  • fiercely driven, blunt, and ruthless
  • top of each industry (cable and computer)
  • at Microsoft, Gates was making a significant bet that the information highway would become a major growth sector for the company
  • he had approved spending more than $100 million in 1993 on research and development of technology that would give it control of that pipeline through which digital information would flow
  • for years, Gates had been criticized by his peers within the industry for taking innovations that had been developed elsewhere and simply improving them à a sore point with Gates, who would go to great lengths to argue that Microsoft created innovative software
  • Gates was well aware that no high-tech company had ever made the transition from one technological era to the next
  • was convinced that interactive television would drive the digital revolution and foster the creation of the information highway
  • Gates hired the best and the brightest to work with the Advanced Technology Group at Microsoft
  • Gates relied a lot on his sidekick, Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s #1 propeller head
  • Gates’s wife-to-be = Melinda French
  • in briefings about projects that needed a final approval from Gates, he always asks some tough questions and often screams at someone, throw something, or shout his familiar phrase, “This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of!”
  • the group who worked in creating Windows 95 was named the ‘Marvel team’, named after Marvel Comics

Pitch #5

Pg. 121 – 150

  • Gates’s best man = Steve Ballmer
  • Gates’s wedding: held in Hawaii, on a tiny island of Lanai, in a golf course at the Manele Bay Hotel
  • Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer’s friendship went back to their days together at Harvard
  • when Gates had dropped out of school in his sophomore year to found Microsoft with Paul Allen, he had called Ballmer to become one of his most trusted advisors
  • Gates had turned to Ballmer in 1984 to lead what would become a death march to develop Microsoft’s first Windows program after it fell far behind schedule and threatened to sink the company
  • Gates had long felt the pressure to marry
  • Mary Gates, Gates’s mother, had summoned all her strength to be at the wedding although she was fatally ill with cancer
  • bride: Melinda French
  • many of Microsoft’s rivals speculated how a change in marital status would affect Gates’s first love – Microsoft
  • his life as a bachelor had been the subject of much media humour
    cartoonist Berkeley Breathed modeled his comic strip antihero Bachelor Tycoon after Gates
  • ever since then, Gates was also known as the Bachelor Tycoon
  • during his years in college, Gates rarely dated
  • however, he liked to frequent Boston’s notorious Combat Zone, with its porn shows, strip joints, and prostitutes
  • Gates’s first serious girlfriend: Jill Bennett
  • during their dating period, Bennett found a sensitive side in Gates: “Although he hides it well with his hard-core exterior, and certainly will not admit it, Bill’s feelings get hurt easily”
  • they broke up because Gates couldn’t make time for the relationship
  • Melinda French is nine years younger than Gates
  • they met a company function soon after she went to work for Microsoft
  • at first glance, they have little in common
  • Melinda was an avid runner and hiker who also enjoyed the theater; Gates had never exhibited interest in any activity that smacked of drudgery; Melinda was poised and gracious and looked like the girl next door, in contrast to Gates’s “nerdy” dress and manners
  • Melinda was also smart, well-read, and extremely driven, just like Gates
  • Gates: a well-known womanizer
  • Gates and Microsoft spoon-fed stories to industry writers for papers, so his womanizing was not well reported
  • Gates threw wild bachelor parties in his Seattle home, in which Gates visited one of Seattle’s all-nude nightclubs and hired dancers to come to his home and swim naked with his friends in his indoor pool
  • because Melinda was well aware of Gates’s womanizing, their relationship ran hot and cold
    Gates received the National Medal of Technology in a ceremony in the Rose Garden, from President George Bush
  • Gates was worried that he would be too old to enjoy his children if he waited much longer to marry
  • the $50 million high-tech home he was building on Lake Washington included a children’s wing, complete with an extra room for a nanny
  • Gates had sought reassurances from friends that he was doing the right thing in contemplating marriage
  • jumping over a table: a feat that Gates had enjoyed performing in female company for many years
  • “Even though Bill’s mother had urged him to marry Melinda, he was not going to be pressured, even by his mother, until he was sure she was the one,” said a Gates family friend
  • Gates bought Melinda a diamond ring so big that she had to place one had over the ring to hide it from the public. On one occasion, she had to place a coffee cup on her hand to hide the ring
  • “I think Bill sees this as a great step in his life; in some sense, simplifying his life. Now there is just one person, instead of dozens… in many ways, it was almost inevitable he would end up marrying someone at Microsoft. If you are going to be Bill Gates’s wife, you are going to be part of Microsoft, or you are only going to participate in a very small segment of his life,” said Vern Raburn, a longtime friend of Gates
  • Ann Winbald, Gates’s former girlfriend, now a very close friend, commented, “I don’t think Bill views marriage as a legal agreement. He views it as more of a long-term commitment of love.”
  • Gates told Raburn that he would now be more focused than ever since the matter of his marital status was no longer something that would consume his time or his thoughts. “If anybody thinks being married is going to lessen my intensity, they are in for a surprise!” – Bill Gates
  • although Melinda was engaged to the chairman, she continued her job as a Microsoft manager, and wanted no special treatment
  • Gates was concerned about Melinda’s safety. “After all, she was going to marry one of the richest men in the world, and there are a lot of crazy people out there,” said one of the residents of the neighborhood Melinda grew up in
  • hard-working Bill Gates had never before taken more than one week’s vacation at a time before his three-week vacation in Africa with Melinda and 10 friends
  • Gates was not religious, though Melinda was a devout Roman Catholic
  • fed misinformation in order to mislead the media about their wedding
  • Gates footed the entire wedding bill, which was well over a million dollars
  • Gates surprised his new wife on New Year’s Eve, the day before their wedding day, on the private beach below the hotel, with a performance by Willie Nelson, her favourite singer
  • Gates took the death of his mother very hard – “I am the son of Mary Gates, and she was a wonderful woman. Not many adult sons are as proud of their mother as I was.”
  • “Although his mother had a major influence on him, Melinda will have much more. She will be able to help Bill even more than he realizes,” said one of Gates’s best male friends

Pitch #6

Pg. 151 – 180

  • Gates, without any work to do, is “just a regular guy”. A CBS camera crew had filmed him carrying his luggage through Seattle’s Tacoma-International Airport and stopping at a Wendy’s for a cheeseburger and Diet Dr. Pepper
  • in an interview with a well-known TV anchorwoman Connie Chung, although Gates was tired from his trip from Europe that morning, when Chung asked him to demonstrate, on camera, his trademark knack for jumping over a chair from a standing start, he reluctantly obliged. He also answered all irritating questions from Chung such as “Do you think you’re successful?”.
  • when Gates was asked whether he considered himself to be a nerd, he answered, “If nerd means you can enjoy understanding the insides of a computer and sit in front of it for hours and play with it and enjoy it.”
  • Gates has a reputation as a bully in the computer industry à Gates’s sensitive area
  • when Gates visited China to lobby for better access to China’s emerging software market, he spoke his mind to reporters at a press conference in Beijing, scolding the Chinese government for preventing the marketplace from dictating software standards
  • he was being his usual pushy and confrontational self
  • during his visit to China, Gates offended just about everyone, including Communist Party leader Jiang Zemin
  • Gates regarded all of the Far East (including China) as a potential gold mine for Microsoft
  • Gates is quick to work on damage control

Pitch #7

Pg. 181 – 210

  • when Gates was writing his book about the information highway with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson, a former reporter for the Seattle Times, he had no literary agent and had not met any publishers himself; instead, the negotiations were conducted by a team from Microsoft
  • when about a dozen publishers expressed interest in the book, Gates demanded an advance of at least $2.5 million with a guaranteed first printing of 500,000 copies. He also expected the publisher to set aside $125,000 for marketing
  • Gates and Myhrvold planned to donate their share of the book royalties to charity
  • by the time the book was published, the information highway envisioned by Gates had changed significantly since he had set Microsoft on an ambitious course he believed would position it as the information highway leader
  • Gates told his employees that Microsoft was placing a “major bet” that the information highway would become a significant growth factor for Microsoft
  • Gates boasted to friends that he told Vice President Al Gore during a meeting that if the government tried to break up Microsoft, he would move the company and all its employees overseas, out of reach of US control
  • he was determined to get the best deal possible in everything
  • although Gates and Clinton played golf together before, they had little in common; Gates liked the president, but found he couldn’t talk to him about anything technical, which was generally a prerequisite for forming a relationship with Gates
  • a survey done by Opinion Research Corporation had found that Gates was #2 on a list of the executives whom Americans most admired
  • Gates’s company had tied with Coco-Cola as America’s third most admired company in a survey of more than 10,000 business executives by Fortune magazine
  • Gates bought the electronic rights to the world’s artworks to display them on giant TV screens on the walls of his mansion
  • Gates bought the Codex Hammer, an original 72-page manuscript of Leonardo da Vinci’s diagrams and notes, for $30.8 million
  • Leonardo da Vinci was one of Gates’s personal heroes
  • Gates greatly admired da Vinci’s scientific genius and vision
  • Gates announced that he would not name the Codex after himself, as Hammer had done. Instead Gates said it would be rechristened the Codex Leicester, its name for more than 200 years of its history
  • Gates promised to share the Codex with the world before permanently installing it at his mansion, by exhibiting it at museums in New York City, Paris, and Seattle

Pitch #8

Pg. 211 – 240

  • Bill Gates always wants to win
  • Gates calculates every move he and his company take
  • he calculates every move his opponents take
  • long lines and a packed house welcomed Bill Gates as he opened the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas with a keynote speech on the future of the information superhighway, where, he predicted, virtual money from wallet computers would replace cash, and wall-size screens would bring interactive television into the home
  • although his oratorical skills will never rival those of a fiery southern preacher, Gates can always hold the attention of an audience of the faithful, and so, accompanied by a Microsoft interactive video, he had the techie crowd of 5,000 entertained with his vision of the future
  • Gates and Microsoft’s worst-kept secret: Microsoft would launch its own on-line service, to be called the Microsoft Network, MSN for short
  • although Microsoft had discussed its plans with industry executives and had been negotiating to line up content for the service, the company had never before publicly acknowledged its plans
  • Gates promised that MSN would be available in 35 countries that had telephone access to the network
  • Gates proposed that MSN would be bundled with Windows 95
  • contrast to what others in the industry thought, Gates said he thought MSN with Windows 95 isn’t anticompetitive at all and that if this is about splitting up the market, it’s a poor market for all of them
  • when Gates wanted a live demo to determine whether it would be included in Windows 95 depending on how well MSN worked in the demo, he took part in an online chat with someone in France and Australia
  • Bill Gates: is brilliant technically, understands the big picture, loves strategy, loves think strategy, wants to know your strategy, wants to know everybody’s strategy, is a tough negotiators, doesn’t waste time, and gets things done

Pitch #9

Pg. 241 – 270

  • Gates is viewed as the Satan incarnate of the computer industry by many people; he is amazingly destructive
  • is often compared too John D. Rockefeller, who created the Standard Oil monopoly
  • many complaints that Gate and Microsoft’s “predatory pricing” of its products had crippled many software companies
  • “He’s made it unprofitable for the rest of us. There is no balance of power,” said Philippe Kahn, Borland’s founder and Gates’s all-time rival
  • Kahn insisted that Gates would eventually control every aspect of the computer industry, from applications and operating systems to home banking and interactive television
  • “It will be a total dictatorship,” Kahn said. “This guy will go down in history as one of the most ruthless and powerful people of all time.”
  • Kahn described Gates’s technical capabilities as all talk. “It’s an image he’s trying to put out.
  • Gates = ubiquitous
  • Gates began writing a weekly newspaper column that appeared in papers around the country
  • Gates was also the subject of an entire newsgroup on the Internet, on which people around the planet could post “thousands of messages a day about nothing but what Gates says, how he looks, and whether his house on Lake Washington near Seattle is an architectural disgrace”
  • Gates’s ambition = to control the industry
  • “At [one] time, I felt the only thing that was going to stop the guy was his ego,” Kahn said of Gates. “He’s got a shitload of it. You sit down and you listen to this little prick going on about how he’s going to put everybody out of business… It’s not right, for the industry, for the customers… In an industry that is growing as fast as ours, why is nobody making money but Microsoft? Something very bizarre is going on at the top.”
  • Kahn later on, in Journal’s editorial page, praised Gates for all that Microsoft had accomplished:“Unlike Mr. Manzi, who tried to use the legal system to gain a competitive advantage, you, Mr. Gates, competed in the market-place – you did a very good job of it. You deserve credit for that. You’ve actually done such a great job at it that today Microsoft clearly dominates the software industry. Some say that Microsoft is like a government that has been democratically elected but is now tempted to take advantage of its position of power. Mr. Gates, prove these critics wrong. Use your position of leadership to foster industry practices that will help the software industry grow to its next stage of maturity, assuring our customers that the software industry will remain fair and competitive for decades to come.”
  • in what seemed to be an astonishing turnabout, between the lines of his letter Kahn was making a peace offering of sorts to his old nemesis with his downright nice compliments
  • Kahn’s new company, Starfish, was developing products to run on Windows 95, and some cooperation was in order. Gates had already extended a peace offering when he sent Kahn an e-mail when he resigned as Borland’s CEO, saying he hoped Microsoft and Starfish could enjoy a good working relationship
  • Gates sent a memo to his executive staff: “I have gone through several stages of increasing my views of [the Internet’s] importance. Now I assign it the highest level of importance.”
  • Gates instructed his staff to begin using the Internet whenever possible, and to encourage their staffs to use it too
  • Gates wanted to observe the ways his competitors are using their Web sites to present their products
  • Gates wanted every product plan to try and go overboard on Internet features
  • when Internet evangelist Ben Slivka suggested that Microsoft consider giving away its browser on the Web, à la Netscape, Gates exploded and called him a “communist”, a word he had applied a couple of ears earlier to an FTC commissioner who had suggested that Microsoft share its technology with competitors
  • although Gates had committed Microsoft to ride the Internet tidal wave, his most immediate concern was getting the much-displayed Windows 95 out the door and onto millions of computers

Pitch #10

Pg. 271 – 294

  • “He got tripped up in the conversation and was not making much sense. It’s almost like there is something he wants to prove that he can’t prove. I almost felt that he was envious because he knew that what I was showing was my personal design, and that everyone was saying it was great software. I think that hurt him more than if he lost his $12 billion,” Kahn said when Kahn came to demonstrate the latest version of SideKick for Windows 95, developed by his new company
  • Gates left on a two-week vacation to China with his wife and several other couples.
  • Melinda was pregnant at the time; the baby was due 8 months later
  • Melinda’s pregnancy was a hush-hush; no one was supposed to know
  • Bill Gates was about to become a father, and it was one event that he did not want the world to know about
  • April 26, 1996, Melinda Gates gave birth to their first child, a girl: Jennifer Katharine Gates
  • some people in the computer industry wondered what kind of father the hard-driving Gates would make
  • when Jennifer was born, he told a New York Times reporter that it had been “much more of a thrill than I expected. I thought, ‘Well, when the kid starts talking, we’ll do things together.’ But even a kid who doesn’t talk has little triumphs and a personality.”
    Gates, whose burning desire to win and fear of failure compel him not only to beat his competitors, but to destroy them, Microsoft’s dominance seems secure for a long time to come