Bill Gates Steps Down: The End of an Era

 
 
By Stan Gibson  |  Posted 2008-06-25 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

How the Microsoft co-founder changed computing, changed business and changed our lives.

John D. Rockefeller. Henry Ford. Andrew Carnegie. Bill Gates.

Few today would dispute that Gates is on a par with the great business figures of history. His genius melds deep technical knowledge, strategic business thinking and the force of personality that only a few figures have ever commanded--and to which none of his peers has come close.

Gates remains chairman of Microsoft, but on June 27 he steps down from day-to-day activities at the company--a software empire, really, with an estimated 84,000 employees and $68 billion in annual revenue. Moving forward, Gates will spend the bulk of his time on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Starting from programming a time-shared minicomputer via teletype nearly four decades ago, Gates changed computing, changed business and changed our lives. Along the way, he amassed America's greatest current fortune--much of which he is, like the business giants of yesteryear, devoting to charity.

While many of Gates' computer industry contemporaries have been technologically brilliant, few of those bright minds have had excellent, or even good, business sense.

What would the world have been like if Bill Gates had never been born? Find out here.

Conversely, there have been many stellar business executives in the technology industry, but few, if any, industry stars with the same hard-wired passion for technology as Gates.

But, despite Gates' love of programming, which took hold when he was a teenager, the balance he struck between business and technology always tilted toward business--and, above all, profit.

"Gates had technical and business knowledge that no one else really had," said Erik Brynjolfsson, the Schussel Family Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the Center for Digital Business at MIT. "His technical knowledge was great, but the success of Microsoft was due to his business knowledge and skill, even more than technical knowledge. He was absolutely brilliant, going beyond cutting-edge economic theory. He pioneered new practices and ran circles around his competitors."

The result: a software mega-vendor with a vast array of products--ranging from consumer games to systems management solutions--anchored by a Windows installed base of about 1 billion users and aggressively seeking to maintain its dominance in a Web 2.0 world.



 
 
 
 
Stan Gibson is Executive Editor of eWEEK. In addition to taking part in Ziff Davis eSeminars and taking charge of special editorial projects, his columns and editorials appear regularly in both the print and online editions of eWEEK. He is chairman of eWEEK's Editorial Board, which received the 1999 Jesse H. Neal Award of the American Business Press. In ten years at eWEEK, Gibson has served eWEEK (formerly PC Week) as Executive Editor/eBiz Strategies, Deputy News Editor, Networking Editor, Assignment Editor and Department Editor. His Webcast program, 'Take Down,' appeared on Zcast.tv. He has appeared on many radio and television programs including TechTV, CNBC, PBS, WBZ-Boston, WEVD New York and New England Cable News. Gibson has appeared as keynoter at many conferences, including CAMP Expo, Society for Information Management, and the Technology Managers Forum. A 19-year veteran covering information technology, he was previously News Editor at Communications Week and was Software Editor and Systems Editor at Computerworld.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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