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Dually Cold Takes

by M.G. Siegler


"He is down to his last $54 billion."

Mildly terrifying illustration aside, loved this FT lunch interview with Bill Gates. On the success of Microsoft:

As Gates tells it, the money was almost an accidental byproduct: “Really, if you develop good software, the business isn’t that complicated … The business side is pretty simple; you try and take in more than you spend.”

With regard to the old rivalry with Apple:

I ask about the popular narrative that in the 1990s the ruthlessly efficient Microsoft had “crushed” its rival, Apple, even though Apple fans insisted that its products were better designed. “I don’t remember them being crushed,” snorts Gates. “I don’t remember them ever being crushed. We were writing software for them and in their lowest day, who [was it that] invested in Apple to help them out? Well, that was Microsoft. I see,” he laughs scornfully.

On his work these days out of his comfort zone -- quite literally:

Gates talks at length and with great enthusiasm about all the various lines of research being pursued in the search for vaccines for HIV and malaria, but he has no medical training. I ask him whether he ever feels out of his depth, discussing the latest developments. He shoots me a slightly incredulous look and says, “No, because I read whatever it takes and I get to learn whatever I want to learn. And I get to spend time with people who work in the field and they’re very nice about educating me. So I’ve got to learn a lot about immunology, which is a super-interesting field,” he says, grinning with pleasure and taking a bite out of his cheeseburger.

"I read whatever it takes..."

Finally, great kicker:

I drink up my coffee and ask for the bill. As I produce my credit card, Gates looks slightly amused. “You sure you want to pay for this?” he says. “I got money.”

Had he not given away $28 billion of his wealth to his foundation thus far, he'd be rapidly approaching $100 billion in net worth...


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