Why Bill Gates Left Microsoft - InformationWeek
IoT
IoT
Mobile // Mobile Applications
Commentary
6/25/2008
08:11 PM
Dave Methvin
Dave Methvin
Commentary
50%
50%
RELATED EVENTS
Dun & Bradstreet CAO Discusses Her Roll & The Skills Needed to Do the Job
Jul 26, 2017
LWhat does a chief analytics officer do each day? To help us answer that question we welcome Dun & ...Read More>>

Why Bill Gates Left Microsoft

Under the leadership of Bill Gates, Microsoft accomplished a lot. Now he's retiring from the company to dedicate more time to his charitable foundation. Yet I wonder why he's decided that now is the time to move on. I think the answer can be found in a 2003 rant by Bill about his problems in using the Microsoft Web site, Windows Update, and Windows in general.

Under the leadership of Bill Gates, Microsoft accomplished a lot. Now he's retiring from the company to dedicate more time to his charitable foundation. Yet I wonder why he's decided that now is the time to move on. I think the answer can be found in a 2003 rant by Bill about his problems in using the Microsoft Web site, Windows Update, and Windows in general.In that e-mail missive, Bill released his frustration about all the problems he had. If you look at the actual problems, though, you might think he wrote that e-mail in 2008 rather than 2003 because few of them have been fixed. In other words, Bill complained but nobody seemed to do anything about it. When the guy at the top can't get his pet peeves addressed after five years, something is wrong with the company.

At one time, Gates seemed to have fearsome powers. The "BillG Review" was an event to be dreaded, but most of all an event for which to be prepared. Joel Spolsky gave an account of his first BillG review. That review sounded tame compared with this one with the Gates classic line of "I can't believe that anyone with any f-ing IQ is working on this problem."

Joel Spolsky's take on the de-evolution of Microsoft provides a clue as to why Gates lost his lust for Microsoft:

Steve [Ballmer] took over the CEO role on the theory that this would allow Bill to spend more time doing what he does best, running the software development organization, but that didn't seem to fix endemic problems caused by those 11 layers of management, a culture of perpetual, permanent meetings, a stubborn insistence on creating every possible product no matter what ... and a couple of decades of sloppy, rapid hiring has ensured that the brainpower of the median Microsoft employee has gone way down.

When Bill focuses on his charitable foundation, he'll be back at the helm of a small but well-capitalized organization. Unlike Microsoft, though, it's not one that needs to answer to stockholders and I suspect he'll keep the organization tight and responsive. I have to think that is one of the primary reasons he's leaving Microsoft. He wants to work at an organization where he can make decisions and there is at least some hope that the company can make them happen. Those days are gone for Bill Gates and Microsoft.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security Enterprise
To learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
IT Strategies to Conquer the Cloud
Chances are your organization is adopting cloud computing in one way or another -- or in multiple ways. Understanding the skills you need and how cloud affects IT operations and networking will help you adapt.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Flash Poll