Steve Jobs vs. Bill Gates: The hare wins in the end (and gives a far superior speech)

“As young men born in the same year (1955), they set out from the same starting point, but with radically different personalities. In the early days of personal computers, both dropped out of college and launched their own businesses,” Andrew B. Wilson and Robert O. Skovgard write for The American Spectator. “Of the two, the late Steve Jobs was always the quick, live-for-the-moment hare, while Bill Gates was the dispassionate, lawyerly, bide-your-time tortoise.”

“For two decades, the race between the two went according to script, with the hare jumping out to a huge early lead, before falling hopelessly behind. Apple Computer appeared to be headed for bankruptcy in 1997 when Gates and Microsoft came to the rescue with a $150 million investment. While appearing as the noble competitor, Gates could not hide his contempt for his longtime rival. In a Vanity Fair article in 1998, Gates said sneeringly — ‘What I can’t figure out is why he is even trying. He knows he can’t win,'” Wilson and Skovgard write. “But this is when the fable took an amazing twist.”

MacDailyNews Take: Microsoft’s $150 million investment in non-voting shares did not “rescue” Apple Computer, Inc. per se.

The value was in the settlement of patent disputes for an undisclosed figure, a patent cross-licensing agreement, the promise of continued Office and other software for Mac development for a five-year period, and, most of all, the P.R. the deal generated.

As was usually the case, Jobs got the bang for the buck, and then some, for which he was looking.

“In the last 12 years of his life, Jobs reinvented himself and his business not once but several times, and finished far ahead of his rival. He built the most valuable business in the world–creating more than half again as much wealth for his shareholders as Microsoft,” Wilson and Skovgard write. “As many have commented, Jobs saw himself as an artist no less than a businessman or technologist. His artistry is evident in what now seems his last will and testament: the now-famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford… It is interesting to compare this commencement address with the one that Gates gave two years later at Harvard.,, [a speech with] both the carefulness and the clumsiness of a document drafted by a committee, and it makes Gates seem something of a poseur — pretending to a wisdom that he doesn’t possess.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]


  1. Did Microsoft really save them? Or was it more of a psychological message to both consumers and developers that Apple still had life left? I’m guessing the latter is more true.

    1. I agree. I’d like to see what Apple had in the bank at that time and how much that investment helped.
      Also, wasn’t there an legal side to that investment having to do with MS trying to kill QuickTime and actually stealing some of its code?

      1. Soon after the Microsoft investment, Apple got its house in order. Cutting programs, hardware products and terminating the clones. Apple bought Power Computing for 100 million dollars. If Apple was in dire shape, they would not have paid Power Computing that lump sum and just let the license expire.

      2. At that moment in time, Apple had posted its first quarterly billion-dollar loss! Ouch.

        Jobs asked for the 150-million not because Apple needed the money, but as a way of endearing Apple to Gates; Gates thinking, wow, Steve has empowered me and I now have the power of life and death and I choose life for Apple.

        What Jobs was really after was, continued support for Office. Without it, it would have consumed far more resources to revitalize Apple in the eyes of its shareholders.

        With Gates’s public gesture, he sent a clear message to the Street, that Apple was still breathing and could stand on its own two feet.

    2. Let’s not forget the DOJ was investigating MS at the time.

      I always felt the so called “investment” was really a publicity stunt by MS to show the DOJ how benevolent they were.

      1. Wasn’t the undisclosed private settlement for the stolen QuickTime code closer to $1 billion? The $150 million was just a public investment on the part of Microsoft.

        1. Around that time Apple’s accounts suddenly show a 10 figure jump in the value of cash and short term investments. The QuickTime settlement dwarfed the public Microsoft purchase of shares.

    3. Microsoft did NOT save Apple with their $150m share purchase (equivalent to 4 days revenue for Apple at the time). It was a settlement for the lawsuit. People immediately began to state how Microsoft had taken over Apple which just indicates the woeful lack of basic reasoning and arithmetic nous of so many products of passes for education in America.

  2. Right Right. You do good you get good. You do bad you get bad. I would not trade my life for Bill Gates for any amount of money. I don’t know how Bill Gates can sleep @ night. Steve Jobs will haunt Bill Gates until the day he dies. You will meet your maker one day Bill. That goes for you too Eric T. Mole.

  3. That piddly $150 million Microsoft investment into Apple did nothing to prop up Apple except for PR value. These so-called “writers” get it wrong every time. Much more notable and important was the continuation of Microsoft Office for another 5 years than the money. And yes Bill Gates & Steve Ballmer are tech poseurs. It is irritating to the max to see either credited with any kind of vision of the future beyond the rest of us mere mortals. Especially considering they missed every new tech trend, the most colossal being the Internet probably. D’Oh! Dey be followers, not leaders.

    1. “The idea that Bill Gates has appeared like a knight in shining armour to lead all his customers out of a mire of technological chaos neatly ignores the fact that it was he who by peddling second-hand, second-rate technology, led them all into it in the first place.”

  4. Bill Gates was nothing but a glorified copier. He should have been in the Xerox photocopying business.

    Bill Gates has always been inhaling the smoke emanating from Steve Jobs’ exhaust pipes from the very beginning of Microsoft’s existence until now. Without the original Macintosh issued in 1984, Windows 3.1 would never have happened.

    Bill Gates is the Eric Schmidt of the day, given privileged access to Apple’s software development process and purloined the idea. In Gates’ case it was Word for Mac. In Schmidt’s case it was iOS.

    Steven Ballmer on the bridge of the RMS Titanic, “Steady as she goes.”

  5. I’ve got it stuck in my memory that the $150 was part of a settlement Microsoft made to Apple for stealing (with Canyon System’s help) QuickTime. ISTR that Microsoft was desperate that Apple not testify in the Federal DOJ anti-trust investigation (that was subsequently dropped during the penalty phase) because Apple had Microsoft dead-to-rights for releasing QuickTime code as their own MSFT Video for Windows. The settlement included MSFT promising to never produce pro video (hence the replacement of VfW with Windows Media Player), The $150 million investment, and also promising to stop sabotaging the original Mac Office in favor of their Windows ports.

    Why has history forgotten this nuance? I think Daniel Erin Dilger (sic) might still have some reporting of all of this on

    1. ABSOLUTELY SPOT ON, Tilted! Microsoft (and its barely disguised “subcontractor” got caught with their hands in Apple’s cookie jar (QuickTime) . . . and this money kept their lying, cheating asses out of the headlines (and, if there is any justice on the planet, JAIL)!

      How time flies and memories fade.

      1. Quote from Dilger’s article:

        Puzzling Questions

        Since delivering a new version of Mac Office and investing millions in Apple could do nothing to shield Microsoft from antitrust and consent decree violations that had little to do with Apple, what was really behind the the million dollar deal?

        I think it was just Steve Jobs playing Bill Gates. It was a Ju-Jitsu move of using a foe’s own momentum to neutralize their position; a ploy not lost on the audience, who took it as a sign of life in Apple.

        I actually think Jobs opened the chess game with Gates, using this 150-million-dollar gambit; feigning weakness to garner empathy, which I believe was the only emotion that would work on Bill Gates, at the moment in time. Steve acquiesced and stated as much didn’t he, when he said the PC wars were over and Microsoft won? Knowing deep down that the PC wars was but one battle in the great war over mindshare.

  6. History is replete with characters posing as an antagonist to the Hero. Gates has served that purpose quite well. Now that the Hero has moved on, Gates is left to grovel in the mess he created. The final act will be the implosion of Microsoft. A day to look forward to for so many reasons.

  7. Jobs abandoned a little baby, Gates did not.
    Jobs lied to the police and said he was sterile. Gates did not.
    Jobs stole money from Woz. Gates stole from nobody.
    Jobs used LSD, supported drug dealers. Gates did not.
    Jobs hoarded his wealth like a pimp. Gates did not.
    Jobs said his book to written because daddy was not home, wanted to tell his kids about him. No such bullshit from Gates.
    On and on.

    Jobs was never a match for Gates. Jobs made ‘really cool products’ and was ‘thrilled’ all the time … bla bla bla.

    Richest fool in the cemetery now.

    Oh, Gates obviously follows his doctors advice. Jobs doesn’t. He’s dead.

    1. … “Gates stole from nobody.”…

      Hey, Bill Gates may be yor Dad, that one statement alone proves just how wrong you are. He stole Windows from Apple, pretty much stole DOS which start him down that road.
      Look at the number of law-suits where he (MS) stole ideas, and technology – too many to count.
      Now, get off your high horse before you get hurt.

    2. “Gates stole from nobody.”

      Actually Gates stole from the inventor of DOS as well as Apple. And by releasing shoddy products and imposing them on the market through abuse of monopoly, Gates’ company stole BILLIONS of man hours and TRILLIONS of dollars in lost productivity from the entire world.

      Other than that, he’s a terrific guy.

    3. There are a lot of fallacies in that post. You have no premise but seem to imply that you have an argument which, even if it were, doesn’t support your conclusion.

    4. Gates stole from everybody who bought his software, which was and is the computing version of the Pinto. In any other business he would have been jailed.

      Being alive is a temporary condition for everyone that’s not yet dead.

      Your whole comparison shtick is puerile.

  8. Another Prognostication: By 2015 iMac sales will exceed M$ Windoze desktop sales. OSX + iOS >Windoze worldwide. M$ Windoze competition will come mainly from Ubuntu Linux which will also gain by leaps and bounds in 3rd world countries to displace Windoze. By 2020 I expect M$ Windoze to be a distant 3rd most popular(?) OS. Disclaimer: The accuracy of these Prognostications is at least as accurate as predictions by Tech Pundits. 🙂

  9. Gates – ‘But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school.’
    Wow, what an accomplishment, what a sense of humor! Good article to read.

  10. OK.. So I’m producing a corporate gig, stage show in Palm Springs this past week, when the client, on stage, relates his near death experience to the audience of sales folk. Motivational style.

    All of a sudden he parrots the Steve Jobs Stanford speech. The part about facing death and looking in the mirror every day to question your raison

    1. (sorry)

      Raison d’être. Reason for being.

      I could hardly believe what I was hearing.

      Great artists may steal, but this felt more like an outright ripoff. I mean, c’mon, at least do a simple various on the theme, instead of just a total lift of the script.

      Any karmic implications here, or just stylistic?..

  11. Man – there are a lot of blind apple fanboys out there who really know noting about technolgoy, who invented what, or the FACT
    that Steve Jobs was a RAGING A**hole. Design genius given.

    Apple will fall, Steve’s effectiveness was a result of a very ‘intense’ personality and a leadership style that was based on him and only him (and he made good decisions).

    BTW – what, exactly did Apple invent?

    the GUI – no
    the mouse – no
    osx – no (see unix)
    touch screen phones – no
    hand gestures on screens – no, see fingertalk
    the computer ‘pad’ – no
    iphone design? – no, see ‘Frog Design’

    I can understand the Jobs idolotry. I just think you look like a bunch of pathetic fanboys with your need to denegrate MS.
    APPLE did the exact same things that MS did.
    Bill Gates will eradicate malaria world-wide.
    Steve who?

    1. Couldn’t agree more…
      With all this praise put upon Steve Jobs no one seems to care that Dennis Ritchie passed away October last year… how is it no one has praised Dennis Ritchie? you know!! the guy who invented C programming language and Unix?!!
      and just for the record my iOS on my iPhone glitches up all the time with various versions.

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