3 years ago
Goyo
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Entrepreneurs of my life # 4: Bill Gates
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Bill Gates has been called so many things in his lifetime. Multibillionaire. Richest Man in the World. Visionary. Philanthropist. Genius. Satan. The last one really stands out doesn't it? lol. The fact of the matter is that there is no denying that whether you like Bill Gates or not, he has completely changed the world with Microsoft. What is the history behind the man, though, that has more money than most small nations?! Well, like most early tech visionaries, Bill Gates started off pretty well off. I mean you kind of had to be in order to be have been able to access computers in the early days. Gates, or thrice (interesting nickname given bc he is William Gates III), comes from a family that made its money starting with his great-grandfather. His mother comes from a line of successful bankers, so by the time that Gates was accepted into Harvard he already knew that he had a lot of family money. He, like other visionaries of Technology, felt a stronger calling. For Gates, it was his competitive nature that drove him. Those who knew him say that he was driving into technology not only because of the endless creation possibilities, but because it is the one industry where anyone could overtake you. There is always the possibility of falling behind, and for Gates, who was raised in a family where you were punished when you lost competitions, it was too big a temptation. He was said to be so competitive that he used that he once asked a girl on their first date "what was your SAT score?" He did so because he felt he could not be with anyone below him (FYI he got a 1590 out of 1600). Gates a lot of his success, however, to the luck that he found in his prep school. While at Lakeside school, he became friends with an upperclassmen, Paul Allen. They forged their friendship when the Lakeside school was able to, through a deal with a computer company, to buy time for their students to use computers remotely (remember at that time computers were huge things that needed to be isolated and kept cooled). It was during this time that Allen and Gates began to code. This opportunity also allowed Gates and Allen to wiggle more computer time out of the company, and eventually to even allow Gates to visit the offices where they kept the computers, and study source code for various programs that ran on the system. By the time he finished his junior year at Harvard, Gates knew that he needed to pursue a career in technology and abandoned his schooling. He decided to join Paul Allen at MITS (a computer company you won't remember), and eventually the two boys decided to create Micro-soft. It was actually at this time that Gates began to develop the idea that programmers should respect others' work and not just take it. He thought that he and Allen should be paid for the software that they developed, rather than have others computer hobbyists just take it. He even wrote a scathing letter to the "hobbyists" in the MITS newsletter. Finally Allen and Gates did start their own business. Their first run of luck actually came because of Gates' mother. She was able to secure Gates a direct meeting with IBM officials, through her connections, that allowed the boys to pitch their software ideas. Microsoft made the deal but instead of selling the copyright to their operating system, Gates decided that he would charge less but keep the option to sell to other PC companies. It was THE decision that made microsoft into the software giant it is now. Of course, the Bill Gates story would not be complete without all the anti-Gates words. He was said to be abrasive and confrontational, often hearing his managers' ideas and responding with either "that is the stupidest idea I have ever heard!" or "Why don't you just give up your options and join the Peace Corps?" He was said to be this confrontational even when on oath in a court. When he was asked by federal prosecutors about allegations that Microsoft sought to monopolize the market, Gates was said to be evasive and downright rude to the point that even the presiding judge laughed. Of course, how ever you see Gates will depend on whether you are a fan of his products. There is no denying that he is pushy, demanding, rude, and confrontational, but at the same time what hard-core competitor have you ever seen who has not be characterized as such? Whatever way you see him, there is no denying that the man is a true genius. He was born to change this world, and he has. PS lets not forget that through his organization, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, his family has donated over 28 billion dollars!
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One of the most controversial figures in Business of the past century. And yet I agree with you @Goyo that all the great ones have been somewhat controversial… Rockefeller, Carnegie, JP Morgan, the list goes on...