What drives Gary Reback
Is there a Reback's Law, a bromide, or a saying that you live by?
As a litigator I sort of live by the notion of fear and loathing to my adversary, but in this context I live by the notion of free and open competition for the consumer. That's what drives me every day. This is really philosophical for me. I don't own stock in the companies that we've been talking about. I certainly make a good living, but not the kind of living that Bill Gates and his friends make.
People often ask me why am I so committed to all this. I tell them that I've listened to Bill and I hear what he wants to do, and I don't believe in it. I don't think it's good. I don't think it's good for one person or company to have that kind of power. It's almost religious with me. I think that there needs to be free and open competition, and I think it's important that people stand up for that concept.
When you're a lawyer, lots of times you have to defend causes you don't believe in, frankly. Lots of times you might get up in the morning wondering whether you're making a contribution to society or not. I have no doubt about that. I think that I'm doing something that's beneficial for a lot of people, not just for me. I feel good about my practice and this practice generally, and I think it's one of the most interesting types of practices that a lawyer could possibly have.
With (retiring Assistant Attorney General) Anne Bingaman, who led the charge against Microsoft gone, and after the last huge investigation led to nothing, is there anyone left at the Justice Department really willing to take on Microsoft?
In speeches that Joel Klein has made, he has indicated a far more sensitive recognition of some of these problems than Bingaman ever did. I also think there might be a role for the Federal Trade Commission in the future. The Federal Trade Commission in the past few months has had important hearings about the software industry, and just published a very impressive report in which they talk about the fact that companies that control interface specifications need to be really closely scrutinized by the government, lest they run competitors out of the market and out of all adjacent markets. So I think they get it too.
I think we're going to see, over the coming weeks and months, an increased government role. I've also begun to hear people on Capitol Hill suggesting that there might be hearings at the beginning of the year, and those are suggestions that have been made to me. We've made no effort. We haven't had the time, frankly, to talk to anybody in Congress about these problems. But there is a genuine grass-roots outpouring of concern that I think has reached Senators and Congressmen and women as they've been back from break, and from what we're hearing, people are beginning to focus on that. So yes, I think there's going to be something out of the government. Will it come in time? I think that is the key question.
I mean, after all, the government did go after Microsoft and got them to plead no contest to the (consent) decree in the operating system market, but by then it was too late. There wasn't any competition left. The government understands now that they did what they did too late, but the question is, can they get it together and move in timely fashion? I don't know the answer to that.