Even though Bill Gates gave his farewell speech at CES this past January, the soon-to-be retired founder of Microsoft has been strangely vocal ever since his departure announcement. And although he's inexorably tied to his beloved software company, why hasn't he entered the twilight of his life as he said he would?
After all, doesn't he have something better to do, like take care of his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or water flowers in the backyard or watch the ruined Price is Right?
Obviously he doesn't think so. Instead of helping to lead the fight against diseases all over the world, ol' Billy can't seem to break the ties that bind him to his company and by the looks of things, he doesn't even want to.
And although he may take some time off to explore the world and make good on some of his charitable promises, Gates will never retire from Microsoft and if you ask me, he'll be at the helm sooner than you think.
In just the past few weeks, Gates has been more vocal than we've seen him in recent memory. This past week, he found time to gripe about the free flow of information on the Internet, bash GNU/Linux, talk about Netflix integration, comment on why his company wants Yahoo (it doesn't, by the way) and why he believes the deal is fair.
So why has Bill been so outspoken lately? Simple -- he doesn't want to leave the company that he watched grow during his lifetime. What most people don't realize about Bill Gates is that he wants power more than he wants money and he lusts after dominance instead of an extra $1 billion in the bank.
This is a man who is fiercely competitive and absolutely despises the thought of looking bad on a grand stage. And yet, this is also a man that honestly wants to solve health issues ravaging the world and has donated tons of cash to do just that. In essence, Bill Gates is somewhat of an enigma to most of the world.
But in the end, Gates craves victory and has done his part to promote his agenda throughout the world. And it's this desire that will preclude him from ever truly stepping down from his post at Microsoft. Sure, he said that he'll take on a part-time role and still have some part in the future of his company, but most believe he'll never look back.
I, for one, think that's ridiculous.
Here's the most likely scenario for what will happen over the next decade in Bill Gates' life.
When Bill Gates heads into his semi-retired phase later this year, he'll tell the world that it was such an honor to create software for them over the past two decades and has enjoyed each and every minute as the head of one of the world's largest companies.
After that, he'll wax poetic about leaving the company in good hands and say that he has high hopes and an immense amount of faith in what his company will achieve going forward.
And then, a year will pass with nary a squeak out of Gates and his wife as they do what they can to fight diseases around the globe.
And while Gates is playing philanthropist, he'll watch as his company starts to crumble at the hands of Google and other online services that have left this software company in the dust. Will the damage show on the outside? Of course not -- its software business is far too strong to give anyone an inkling of what's really going on.
A few years after that, Ballmer will hang up his cleats and enter the retired world for good. He'll buy a mansion in Florida and wave on his balcony as all those "working stiffs" drive to work each day, counting his money in the process. Left in his wake will be a company that is merely a shadow of itself. Instead of an organization with a sound business strategy going forward, Gates will look at the mess that was left and feel the need to do something.
After all, does he really want to watch his legacy disintegrate before his eyes?
Within two or three years after Ballmer leaves, Gates will announce that he has taken the reigns of Microsoft once again to steer the company in the right direction. Like Napoleon on a white horse, Gates will rally his shareholders saying he knows how to fix Microsoft and the stock price will rise to an annual high.
Gates will then breathe some life into Microsoft and try to make it adapt to the ever-changing online world and help it refocus its efforts.
And while there's no way to know if his efforts will in fact help his company, Gates' return to Microsoft shows one attribute of this man's personality that should not be overlooked -- he lives for his company and the dominance he can exert. If he sees even one slice of weakness, he will step in to ensure his legacy is cemented in business and technology folklore.
Trust me, Bill Gates will never leave Microsoft and Microsoft will never leave Bill Gates. Think of this "retirement" as nothing more than an extended vacation. He'll be back at the top soon. You can bet on it.