Bill Gates took a kind of victory lap in the press on Monday, with dueling big pieces in the Times and the Journal marking his steadily advancing separation from the company he started three decades ago. While the Journal concentrated on the role that Craig Mundie will take over from Gates — as Microsoft’s long-term software thinker — John Markoff’s Times piece featured some choice quotes from the soon-to-retire founder himself.
First, there was Gates the Google-baiter, adopting a role he has played a lot in recent years:
“How many products, of all the Google products that have been introduced, how many of them are profit-making products?” he asked. “They’ve introduced about 30 different products; they have one profit-making product. So, you’re now making a prediction without ever seeing the software that they’re going to have the world’s best phone and it’s going to be free?”
Then there was Gates the true believer in software:
The center of gravity in the computer industry has dramatically shifted toward software, he said. “Why do you like your iPod, your iPhone, your Xbox 360, your Google Search?” he said. “The real magic sauce is not the parts that we buy for the Xbox, or the parts that Apple buys for iPhones, it’s the software that goes into it.”
Finally, there was Gates the slightly tongue-tied global debugger:
Mr. Gates insists that his new world of philanthropy will be just as compelling as software has been. “I’ll have also malaria vaccine or tuberculosis vaccine or curriculum in American high schools, which are also things that, at least the way my mind works, I sit there and say, ‘Oh, God! This is so important; this is so solvable,’ ” he said, “You’ve just got to get the guy who understands this, and this new technology will bring these things together.”
If that’s the spirit that has inspired Gates to use his fortune for good causes, then one should probably not complain. But there is something so very naive about this richest-man-in-the-world’s can-do engineering spirit.
Problems? You’ve just got to get the “guy who understands”! Give him the right technology! And all will be well.
[tags]microsoft, google, bill gates, philanthropy, new york times, john markoff[/tags]