Will Bill Gates really be able to stay away from Microsoft?

“No one can accuse Bill Gates of acting rashly. On Thursday, Microsoft’s co-founder and chairman announced that he will transition out of the company in July 2008 to spend more time working for his charitable foundation,” Hannah Clark writes for Forbes. “Microsoft’s stock barely budged, perhaps because the firm prudently planned the job change two years in advance.”

“With all this methodical planning, it seems unlikely that Gates will return to an operational role at the computer giant. After all, he relinquished the CEO title to Steve Ballmer six years ago. But other technology firm founders have been unable to resist the pull,” Clark writes.

“Perhaps the most famous is Apple founder Steve Jobs, one of the few CEOs with Gates-level star power. Jobs was forced out of his firm in 1985. He returned 11 years later, when Apple bought NeXT Computer, another Jobs creation. Though he erroneously declared ‘the desktop computer is dead’ in a Wired magazine article in 1996, Jobs soon redeemed himself with the iMac and, of course, the ubiquitous iPod. Apple’s shares reached an all-time high earlier this year,” Clark writes.

“Ted Waitt, another member of the tech billionaire club, also made a U-turn,” Clark writes. “When the economy faltered a year later, [Gateway’s] sales started to slow, and Waitt took the job back. Unlike Jobs, however, Waitt didn’t spur a miraculous turnaround at his company. He relinquished the CEO title again in 2004 and left the board last year… Will Gates be able to stay away? ‘Probably not,’ says John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a consulting and job placement firm for executives. ‘The people who have the hardest time staying away are the ones who own large shares in the company.'”

Full article here.
Apple should be so lucky. Take a look at how Windows Vista is faring under the watchful eye of Gates the “Chief Software Architect.” Or Origami. Or employee morale. Anyway, back to Jobs: Gates wasn’t forced out of the company he founded for eleven years only to create what became the foundation of the company upon his return. Yeah, yeah, Apple bought NeXT. In reality, Apple paid Jobs’ NeXT to take over Apple. Which they did and did well, thankfully.

By the way, Steve Jobs never declared “the desktop computer is dead.” That kind of crap is never going to fly in 2006, Ms. Clark. No way. Not here, at least. Jobs’ full quote was very different than Clark’s mangled and out-of-context concoction:

The desktop computer industry is dead. Innovation has virtually ceased. Microsoft dominates with very little innovation. That’s over. Apple lost. The desktop market has entered the dark ages, and it’s going to be in the dark ages for the next 10 years, or certainly for the rest of this decade. It’s like when IBM drove a lot of innovation out of the computer industry before the microprocessor came along. Eventually, Microsoft will crumble because of complacency, and maybe some new things will grow. But until that happens, until there’s some fundamental technology shift, it’s just over. – Steve Jobs, Wired Magazine, Issue 4.02 – Feb 1996 (source)

“10 years,” Mr. Jobs said. Or 2006. You know, the year Apple began shipping Intel-powered Macs. The year Apple launched Boot Camp Public Beta. The year Apple will show the world Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard. The year that Steve Jobs’ Apple leads the computer industry out of the Gates-induced dark ages in which it’s been mired for so long.

Yes, that’s simply another perfect prediction from Mr. Jobs. We’ve long ago come to expect nothing less from the one real, true visionary of personal computing.

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Related article:
Bill Gates to transition out of a day-to-day role in Microsoft – June 15, 2006


  1. Nice to see that MDN’s “A-Team” is back writing the Takes this evening. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

    Seriously, MDN, standing “O.” Bravo!

  2. I got high with Hannah when she was writing that article. Should could NOT stop giggling while scarfing down Hostess Ho Ho’s one after another. Crazy girl. We finished a bottle of tequila and then she started sobbing about her deadline. I left.

  3. As long as Ballmer is running Microsoft, Apple has nothing to worry about, except how to find more manufacturers who can keep up with growing demand for Apple’s products. Maybe Gateway needs some help to shore up it’s sagging business and could learn to build a real computer – the Mac for Apple! (kidding!)

  4. Other Steve Jobs quotes

    “If I were running Apple, I would milk the Macintosh for all it’s worth — and get busy on the next great thing. The PC wars are over. Done. Microsoft won a long time ago.”
    — Fortune, Feb. 19, 1996

    “You know, I’ve got a plan that could rescue Apple. I can’t say any more than that it’s the perfect product and the perfect strategy for Apple. But nobody there will listen to me.”
    — Fortune, Sept. 18, 1995

    “Apple has some tremendous assets, but I believe without some attention, the company could, could, could — I’m searching for the right word — could, could die.”
    — On his return as interim CEO, in Time, Aug. 18, 1997

    “It wasn’t that Microsoft was so brilliant or clever in copying the Mac, it’s that the Mac was a sitting duck for 10 years. That’s Apple’s problem: Their differentiation evaporated.”
    — Apple Confidential 2.0

    Hmmm, I hope he isn’t following his first quote. :0

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