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Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, the richest man on the world (12 years in a row), announced his semi-retirement from his Microsoft day to day operations job last week. As we know Bill Gates is the icon of technology industry in last 20+ years, I think his quits at this time is very interesting.
First I want to say I have great respect for Bill Gates. I know a lot people don’t like or even hate him for various reasons. But think about this: this is the man who pushed PC to the office and home, and the ways we work or entertain: Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP, Word, Excel, Power Point; Internet Explorer, Windows Media Player, the Solitaire game and so on. He only took 6 days vacations from 1978 to 1984. Before that he quit from Havard Univ. and started the company when the other co-founder Paul Allen told him “you are going to quit, this thing (the PC revolution) is happening without us”. The rest is history.
Secondly, I think the time of his retirement is interesting. This is a difficult time for Microsoft, its stock MSFT has been stagnant for years and has been down sharply recently since the 2006 Q1 earning announcement. Besides the Vista delay, Xbox supply glitch, missed boat on “online music” (vs. iPod), the biggest problem is that it seems like they lost the “Web Search” and rapid-growth online adversing to Google. On the top of that, it appears as we enter into web 2.0 era, the Windows OS and Office suite seems more and more irrelevant. As people spend more time on Browser, for leisure or for work, it does not matter which OS, or browser they are using. Microsoft needs some fresh ideas in this new era. As much talented as Bill is, at age of 50 and a 30 years veteran in software industry, he may not be the best person for this change.
Finally, I think Bill deserve this retirement because he has done so much to the industry. Now he is going to use his experience and chrisma to help the world, I believe he will be successful and wish him do well.