Bill Gates has announced today that he will no longer be involved with running Microsoft on a day-to-day basis. All through the nineties, and still today, it has been fashionable to bash Gates and his lifetime achievement, Microsoft, the world’s largest software enterprise.
Personally, I have a HUGE amount of respect for Gates and what he has accomplished, and I can relate with his decision to leave the Microsoft job to focus on his philanthropic cause.
You see, there is a time for everything in life. For Gates, spending close to 30 years of his life building Microsoft was enough. It is time to step away, and unlike Larry Ellison who can think of not much else besides competing with Microsoft and Gates, I applaud the fact that Gates wants to dedicate the rest of his life to Education and Philanthropy.
Microsoft is a strong company, and recruiting and developing the next generation of leadership is a good idea. For Microsoft to sustain itself into the latter decades of the twenty first century, it needs to look well past Gates and his legacy. There is absolutely no question that Gates is leaving a lasting legacy, by making PCs ubiquitous.
So what if he missed the Internet initially? So what if he has missed On Demand / SaaS initially? He had the vision of putting computers on every desk, and he achieved that vision to a very large degree – more than the degree to which most people’s visions get translated into action. And frankly, so what if Windows is a rather buggy piece of software? Perhaps, the future Microsoft leaders can focus on producing robust, bug free software. Gates had bigger fishes to fry.
Most of the richest men of our generation – Jobs, Ellison, Buffet – are not great Philanthropists. Gates is.
For that, and that alone, I take my hats off to the man and his missions. To vaccinate the world and protect children from preventable diseases. To improve education.
Mr. Gates, never mind the bitterness and venom you have always received from the world as the big, bad empire.
For me, you are a Man.