How did the Microsoft boss become one of the world’s most successful businessmen and generous philanthropists?
Gates got going early. He excelled in maths and science at school and got involved with computer programming as a boy. It wasn’t long before 13-year-old Gates was ‘hired’ by the Computer Centre Corporation to discover system bugs.
In the 1970s, Gates announced his vision of putting “a computer on every desk and in every home”. This was dismissed by some as a pipe dream, but Gates has helped turn that dream into all but a reality today, at least in developed countries. At its beginning, Microsoft consisted of a handful of staff based in Albuquerque. Today it is an enormous global corporation with over 100,000 employees and an annual revenue of around US$90 billion.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is believed to be the largest philanthropic organisation in the world, having made US$34 billion in grant payments since its inception in 2000. Bill’s mission began in 1997 when he went to Africa to see if he could use computers to reduce inequality. He realised that the problem was far more significant than an absence of computers, so he deepened his knowledge and the foundation has since become a powerful force for good, saving millions of lives by dedicating itself to global disease and poverty.
NEVER GET COMFORTABLE
“In this business, by the time you realise you’re in trouble, it’s too late to save yourself. Unless you’re running scared all the time, you’re gone.” Gates has repeatedly emphasised the need to keep moving, and never settle, regardless of how well things are going.
COLLABORATION AS WELL AS COMPETITION
Despite a famously tumultuous relationship between Gates and Steve Jobs, the pair worked together from the beginning; Microsoft was developing software for the Macintosh back in the 1980s. Gates has always recognised the potential for competition to spur business on, but has equally valued the importance of working together. “Our success has really been based on partnerships from the very beginning.”
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