Thirty-three years after he dropped out of Harvard in his first year and founded Microsoft, William Gates III, 53, better known as Bill Gates, will finally cut his day-to-day ties with the company he started with childhood friend Paul Allen. Gates has gradually withdrawn from his day-to-day role at Microsoft, handing over the CEO’s reins to close friend Steve Ballmer and then the technology baton to Craig Mundie and Ray Ozzie. He now wants to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which received a $37-billion (Rs 1,59,100 crore) donation from fellow billionaire-philanthropist Warren Buffett back in 2006. Gates’ Foundation has reportedly pledged over $7 billion (Rs 30,100 crore) to AIDS prevention and the fight against diseases in under-developed countries.The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s $29 billion (Rs 1,24,700 crore) endowment (before it was given Buffett’s fortune) is 10 times the size of the Rockefeller Foundation and three times the size of the Ford Foundation. Gates is also expected to bring his vast network to the table, roping in the likes of Bono of the rock band U2 to extend the reach of campaigns.
Gates, who has cajoled, coaxed and (according to some regulators) bullied clients, competitors and governments into buying his software and supporting his world view of technology, will now have the task of distancing himself from Microsoft cut out.
But, with nimbler companies such as Google giving Microsoft a harrowing time, only time will tell if Gates can step away from the limelight and stay there, even if his company begins to falter.