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Global CIO: Bill Gates Blasts China Over Corporate Software Piracy

Gates blasted Chinese companies for using software they don't pay for and described how profits from companies that DO pay for software have allowed him to help millions of children around the world.
"What's unique to China is you have large businesses using software without paying for it. SUPER-profitable big businesses [he chuckles]. Take two of the five most-profitable businesses in China: they don't pay for their software.

"So that's a case where the Chinese have done something quite unique [he chuckles again; huge laughter and applause from audience]. But, I'm not complaining about it—I'm, you know, a big fan of China [big smile from Gates; big laugh from the audience], and a lot of great things are going on there [another big smile, and more audience laughter and applause], but, y'know, we've all got things to work on."

Anybody who thinks that one of the most competitive and driven people God ever put on this Earth would mellow out because he now spends his time running the world's biggest philanthropy instead of one of the world's biggest software companies should read those few sentences again.

Because Bill Gates ties, very directly and specifically, his current charitable work in improving the health and education of poor people around the world to the wealth he was able to accumulate at Microsoft. And then he quite visibly skewers the Chinese business culture that would have undercut his ability to create a wildly successful software company, from which Gates was able to amass a vast fortune most of which he's now pouring into his philanthropic work.

So while he was smiling outwardly as he triggered repeated laughter from the audience by saying "…the Chinese have done something quite unique . . . I'm, y'know, a big fan of China . . . a lot of great things are going on there," it was abundantly clear that he certainly did not find the subject amusing, or something to be "a big fan of," or "a great thing[s]."

Watch it for yourself on this YouTube video; the comments quoted above about China come in at about 28:38.

GlobalCIO Bob Evans is senior VP and director of InformationWeek's Global CIO unit.

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