June 24, 2008 3:55 AM PDT

Tech luminaries' good-byes to Gates

Whatever their response, most tech luminaries agree that Bill Gates' legacy will remain.

As Gates steps down from full-time work at Microsoft, well-wishing cheers and not-so-nice jeers are echoing from Silicon Valley. After 32 years of competition and acquisition, Gates managed to ruffle some feathers, while still making some famous friends. After the end of this month, Gates plans to spend only 20 percent of his time as a Microsoft chairman. The rest of his time will be devoted to the Gates Foundation and other pet projects.

q&a
Gates big send-off
Co-founder shares surprises, letdowns, and morsels from early Microsoft days.

Now tech company CEOs, founders, and presidents are bidding farewell to Gates and the legacy he created at Microsoft. They'll do it with a crack at his dancing skills or a quip about him stealing their dates, but many will still give him credit for three decades spent changing business in the technology world.

Others have high hopes that he will continue to change the world through his foundation, while some are just breathing a sigh of relief that his bullying days are over. Here's what they had to say about Gates' career and future:


Scott McNealy Scott McNealy

"I wish him good luck. I think he is a very smart guy. It will be nice not to have him beating up on me, but I'm glad he is doing something good. I think he has a big job ahead of him. I prefer to see him spend the foundation's money than leave it to the next guy. I've got to believe that founding entrepreneurs must roll in their graves when they see how people spend their money unsupervised after they're gone."

When asked if he will miss Bill Gates, he said:

"I don't get paid to have feelings. But I wonder if he'll miss me."

--Scott McNealy
chairman of Sun Microsystems


Steve Jobs Steve Jobs
"Bill's retiring from Microsoft is a big deal," Jobs told The New York Times in January. "It's a significant event, and I think he should be honored for the contributions he's made."

--Steve Jobs
CEO of Apple


Michael Dell Michael Dell

"Bill's vision and commitment to open innovation have been pivotal in driving standards-based computing and a new wave of productivity. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find someone else who's had a greater impact on driving computing into every element of people's lives.

"I've always had great respect for Bill's passion for the potential of technology and really think he personifies entrepreneurship, not only as a proven technology visionary but also a business strategist. Bill's shown a great deal of courage over the years, pushing the envelope in everything from IT innovation to public-policy discussions.

"Bill is one of a handful of IT industry leaders whose work has literally changed the world by making technology more ubiquitous and accessible for people everywhere. Many of today's game-changing technologies are possible, in part because of the framework built by Bill and his teams at Microsoft.

"That said, I think Bill's most lasting contribution may well be the Gates Foundation. Bill and Melinda are an inspiration, investing their energies and bringing billions of dollars to some of the world's most pressing problems.

"I don't think we'll see him letting up. If anything, the drive that's characterized Bill during his years at Microsoft will likely intensify, as he turns his full focus to the foundation. We should all stay tuned for what's next."

--Michael Dell
founder and CEO of Dell


Mark Cuban Mark Cuban

"Bill is unquestionably a legend who's has had a far greater impact than most people understand. While the business stories about Bill are many, my favorite Bill Gates story is one he didn't even know I was party to.

"Back in the 1980s, Comdex was not just an industry confab, it was the ultimate party. I was dancing at one of the many events with a couple of girls who were clearly out of my league. All of a sudden, one of their friends comes over to us and tells me they are leaving to go to party with some guy named Bill Gates because he was worth, like, $60 million.

"True story."

Thanks for the motivation, Bill G.

--Mark Cuban
owner of HDNet and the Dallas Mavericks,
former CEO of Broadcast.com


Mitchell Kertzman Mitchell Kertzman

"I guess my view would be that I can imagine a time in the mid-to-distant future when nobody remembers Microsoft or Bill's role in Microsoft, but everyone will know of the Gates Foundation and its contributions to the world.

"If Bill can bring to the Gates Foundation the same drive, determination, and relentlessness that he brought to Microsoft, then he'll be one of history's great and lasting heroes. This is a new arena, when we will ALL be rooting for Bill to vanquish his 'competitors'--disease, ignorance, and poverty."

--Mitchell Kertzman
venture capitalist of Hummer Winblad Venture Partners;
former CEO of Sybase, Powersoft, and Liberate Technologies


Phillipe Kahn Phillipe Kahn
"The industry is transitioning from the PC to the world of the iPhone (and) Google, yet Bill's legacy will endure."

--Philippe Kahn
CEO of FullPower Technologies; founder of Borland Software


Bill Veghte Bill Veghte

"There's a bunch of things that I have learned. Having the scale of ambition is at the core of it. (Bill would say) 'When you think about it, don't think about it in millions; think about it in hundreds of millions.'

"The second thing, I would say, (that) has been so important and inspiring: there are people (who), as they go through life, they get money or they get power or whatever--whether it be in politics or sports. The true test of the person is, when you get that power, and you get that money, does it corrupt the soul?

"We were in a meeting the other day on our approach to search. It was just Bill, myself, and one other person working through some things. Toe for toe, (Gates) is a guy (who) is at least as passionate as us. He's seen everything. He doesn't have to sit in this meeting. He's as passionate, as aggressive, and as excited as anyone else.

"The thing that is so inspirational for me about Bill is that with all that he's done, his hunger, his aspiration, his optimism hasn't dissipated. How he's chosen to apply that power, that money, that capability is inspiring."

--Bill Veghte
SVP of Microsoft's Online Services & Windows Business Group


George Colony George Colony
"'Constructive monopolism' is Bill Gates' single most important legacy," George Colony wrote in his blog.

"He has not been an innovator in technology--in polite circles, we would call him derivative; in less genteel terms, we would call him a plagiarist. Gates has been a business innovator, not a technology innovator. "

As I look back, I think that Gates' 'constructive monopolism' most closely parallels Thomas Edison's. They both created pretty good technologies and then worked, using many means, to get them accepted by more users than their competitors. (Nikola) Tesla and (Steve) Jobs are two sides of the same coin."

--George Colony
CEO of Forrester Research


Rob Metcalfe Rob Metcalfe

"Bill Gates is a great guy. Really smart, and he's not evil--even though I've criticized him harshly. I wrote the first column criticizing Microsoft for anticompetitive behavior. It appeared in Computer World, (marking) the beginning of my journalistic career on February 25, 1991.

"In my column, Viewpoint, the headline was, 'Is Microsoft abusing its power?' I had problems relating to Bill Gates after that because I was highly critical of anticompetitive behavior, which I had detected in 1991. The occasion was Go Corp.--the false announcement of Pen Windows in order to pre-emptively destroy Go.

"Anyway, he's a god. If you have to have a richest guy in the world, Bill Gates is an awfully good choice." (Click here for MP3)

--Robert Metcalfe
co-inventor Ethernet, founder of 3Com and Metcalfe's Law;
general partner of Polaris Venture Partners


Dan Bricklin Dan Bricklin

"He was pretty game for a lot of things in the industry. He'd come, and he'd dance at industry events, and that's pretty tough when everybody is watching you, and you're not necessarily the best athlete. But he did that stuff; he did what was necessary for the company and things like that. I always respected him for being willing to be a statesman of our industry to the rest of the world.

"I remember going to a conference that Microsoft had--I think it was for Pen Computing, and they had all us techies there. The party was over at Bill's house, and we had run of the house...I wouldn't do that!

"What he's willing to do for his business, that's pretty hard-core. And that image of working real hard, getting what he did and giving it back the way he's giving back, which isn't the easy way to give back--it's a great image for others. I'm really pleased that he did it, and I hope he's happy." (Click here for MP3)

--Dan Bricklin
co-creator of VisiCalc spreadsheet program; founder and president of Software Garden and Trellix.


Steve Ballmer Steve Ballmer

"He's not just Bill Gates, he's the Bill Gates," Steve Ballmer told Newsweek magazine. "He founded the company, he's accumulated this wealth, he's got this foundation, he's got this fame. That's irreplaceable.

"Also, Bill grew up with every one of the technologies in this company. He's got more capacity to remember things than anybody I've ever known. It's unlikely we'll have anybody again who has that breadth."

--Steve Ballmer
CEO of Microsoft


Craig Mundie Craig Mundie

"I came here to do all the things non-PC. I remember talking with Bill. Bill said, 'Well, look, if we can just figure out how to write software for all these things, I'm sure there will be a way we can make money out of it.' He demonstrated in sort of a single interaction both this long-term view of things and the way he was willing to make big bets on intuition.

"I think that many of the things that the company has done have derived from a willingness to place big bets over the long term, and from my earliest days here, that was a hallmark of the way Bill thought about managing these new areas.

"I'm sort of a 'bet on people' person, and as an entrepreneur--someone who'd started and run a business--my belief is that all of the leverage is on people; you want to pick and back the right people.

"I met Nathan Myhrvold, and I met Bill Gates, and between them, I found that we shared a common enthusiasm for how technology would be able to help people in more ways.

"I was in the supercomputing business. So you could say to come from supercomputing to cars, televisions, and wristwatches was about as far a departure as you could make. But at the time, I personally believed that we always saw this trickle-down effect, where things that were at the limit of what computing could do quite quickly became commonplace, and courtesy of the Moore's Law phenomena and other things.

"It was really the camaraderie around that view that I felt in those early meetings with Bill and Nathan, and the belief that we had to go find the answers, that no one knew the answer. That was all I really needed to come here. So, we shook hands, and I came here as the general manager of a nonexistent division to do non-PC computing, and the rest is history, as they say.

--Craig Mundie
Microsoft's chief officer of research and strategy


Mitch Kapor Mitch Kapor

"I think I met him, actually, even before Lotus...they were doing some sort of deal with Microsoft, and Bill was driving very fast in a sports car and showed up late to a meeting, and he hadn't had a shower...it was really his intensity that was the most notable characteristic.

"I think he just brought this combination of technical and business rigor, and joined them together in understanding how the fundamental trends in the personal-computer field software and hardware were going, in ways that he could use to just build an enormous business.

"They were focused and strategic and persistent, and that was really Microsoft at its best. At the worst, I think the kind of competition routinely strayed outside of fair territory, and there was kind of a win-at-all-costs mentality that made life extraordinarily difficult." (Click here for MP3)

--Mitch Kapor
founder of Lotus; chairman of the Mozilla Foundation


Bill Campbell Bill Campbell
"Entrepreneurs are risk takers, and Bill Gates is no exception. For more than 30 years, he exemplified entrepreneurial spirit, innovation, and philanthropy. He transformed the software industry and created a durable brand built on hard work and integrity, values that I personally admire. He will undoubtedly continue to amaze and inspire us with his charitable work."

--Bill Campbell
Intuit chairman


CNET News.com's Charles Cooper, Martin LaMonica, Erica Ogg, Marguerite Reardon, and Greg Sandoval contributed to this report.

See more CNET content tagged:
Bill Gates, Scott McNealy, goodbye, foundation, Steve Jobs

19 comments

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From nothing to something, from no competition to competion in businessess and still be a giant. It's what i call Evolution.
Posted by kjaristy (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bill Gates legacy is stronger, its almost everywhere on this planet, we use it everyday, we appreciate it every time we get the results we need from Microsoft software. I am sure Bill's tenacity will continue to amaze in his new field of charitable work. That drive, that crave for perfection will only make a lot of peoples lives better.
Posted by Mr. Dee (3025 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If I was Gates, I'd blow town as fast as my widdle wegs would carry me.
He leaves behind a behemoth that has been milked for billions of dollars while producing a product that is essentially flawed. Witness 'Vista' which no self-respecting CIO will touch.
In 1984 Steve Jobs said 'MS writes dirty code.' Nothing has changed.
All those updates are corrections, corrections on corrections, and prayers that this correction will correct the correction that failed to correct the prior correction.
And what about c000021a - a known BSOD caused whenever XP SP3 and certain 'updates' interact? MS knows about it - yet never warns its customers.
My PC just BSOD for no reason - MS said I should just reformat the drive and re-install.
Fortunately, I run dual-boot. Linux saved my bacon and 20 Gigs of Personal files MS would have had me scrap.
To have an OS as inherently unstable as WinDoze after 30 years of development is criminal. The amount of consumer time wasted is beyond computation.
So, Mr. Gates, buzz off from MS, leave the ball in Mr. Ballmer's incapable hands, and try to do some good with the $50,000,000,000 you bamboozled from your customers.
Hero? My Ass! Gates is at best a good opportunist who had the ball land in his lap and had the sense to grab it before he stood up.
Never has anyone robbed so many of so much time and money as MS Gates & Co.
(signed) Love my Linux, but Mac, you're kinda cute too.
Posted by yarlq (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My Vista laptop hasn't had even a SINGLE BSOD since I bought it in Jan 2007. Been working like a dream
BTW, if Windows "sucks" so much, why the heck are you still using it?
No one is stoping ya from using your crap Linux are they?
Posted by Kwasiowusu (1171 comments )
Link Flag
85% computer users are dumb, this is what I'm reading from your post. I love my ABC OS (I'm sure you've never heard of it, even I haven't) that doesn't make Microsoft bad.
If Linux was that good (either from technical or business/sales perspective) it would've had 85% market share.
Posted by topgunb2 (394 comments )
Link Flag
Dear Yarlq :
what have " you " done ?
Posted by felix640 (2 comments )
Link Flag
Bill Gates understands what office workers need to accomplish their daily jobs. I wish the linux community learn from him in this respect. Whenever you finished a version of your software, spend time in a lab looking at how 100 office workers use your software.

Whenever they got problems, take note & try to solve it in the next version. This is the secret why MS product is so productive. People are willing to pay $$$ despite the are free alternatives.
Posted by badrulnazar (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Note that MS has over 70,000 paid employees who apparently mostly trip and stumble over each other - at least their code does.
The Linux kernel is primarily the product of 1,000 UNPAID volunteers who write code because they love it ... how many MS guys would stay for free?
Open Office can read all MS format documents - MS can hardly read its own, let alone Mac, Linux, Star ... and Word 03 hasn't the vaguest idea what an 07 .docx is - MS can't even read MS!!!!!
Granted OO doesn't have the 22 thousand features that MSO has - but how many features does MS have that the typical user won't find in OO? Not many - and I'd be entertained to hear even one.
(Signed) Linux, for a boring, crash-free life
Posted by yarlq (13 comments )
Link Flag
yarlq : "The Linux kernel is primarily the product of 1,000 UNPAID volunteers who write code because they love it ...----------------. (Signed) Linux, for a boring, crash-free life"
1,000 unpaid volunteers huh?
Is that why the Linux kernel continues to crash repeteadly? As in:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.uwsg.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0203.1/0071.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.uwsg.indiana.edu/hypermail/linux/kernel/0203.1/0071.html</a>
Posted by Kwasiowusu (1171 comments )
Link Flag
Interesting what Phillipe Kahn, Mitch Kapor and other losers in great business battles had to say about Bill Gates.

It says lots about their character, nothing about Gates. No wonder Gates has come out on top after 30 years.
Posted by wango2007 (119 comments )
Reply Link Flag
@ yarlq : "He leaves behind a behemoth that has been milked for billions of dollars while producing a product that is essentially flawed"

You mean like the "unflawed" Firefox that just came out, and still had a very serious security hole, which had actually been in Firefox 2?
Gimme a break!

yarlq : "Gates is at best a good opportunist who had the ball land in his lap and had the sense to grab it before he stood up------------------Love my Linux, but Mac, you're kinda cute too."

If Gates was merely an opportunist, how come your precious Linux (which actually came out before Windows NT was even released) and is free, has been trying like forver to get onto the world's desktops only to FAIL woefully, as consumers voted by their hundreds of millions, with their wallets for Windows, which dominates even in China, where the Apple Mac's market share is close to a big fat ZERO?
Posted by Kwasiowusu (1171 comments )
Reply Link Flag
We will miss you bill!
Posted by moshelinho (45 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft won the market because of good decisions and good timing. Obviously a lot of that would not have happened without Bill Gates.
They could have made decisions of putting more focus into quality assurance but it might not have made such a huge difference. Most of their software quality issues have been either hard to imagine security issues or driver issues with certain hardware.
When people compare quality with Apple they often forget the complexity Microsoft is up against when they are aiming to stay compatible with a much wider range of hardware from many vendors. The Microsoft business model has helped the entire IT industry including hardware and software vendors to grow; and the quality issues could be said to be the price that came out of this brilliant business model.

As a company growing amazingly fast out of nothing, it's also not strange that there are lessons learned that simply are the result from doing things nobody else have ever done.
Posted by peter.mortensen (119 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mr. Gates the easy work is done, now comes the hard part. It?s time to invent the next greate thing.
I don?t know what it would be but I am very confedent that with your experience and our assitance you would be the first one to sopt it.

Hasan J. Qasem,
Student of Business Information System at the Universtiy Of Texas At Arlington.
Posted by yabad2000000 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Now is the time for Mr. Gates to put the Phares "Where do you want to go today" into action. If he can do for his new field of charitable work what he did for the world of Technologies, then he will have made good what he has earned. I would like to think of Bill Gates as someone that helped the world with chariy first and then what he brought to the table with Technologies.

Now go and make us take notice of you in a new way.

Pete Elliott
Retired and Writer
Knoxville TN
Posted by ParePro (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Will miss you Bill.
Your input to society is a legacy for all computer users.
You have educated, created,and inspired us all to make the computer easier,faster and more fun to use.
Enjoy your retirement and THANK YOU
Dave C
Posted by charlie7290 (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
14 Tech luminaries' good-byes to Gates, and I gotta add a ditto.
" " all of the above and expressing some thanks too; ...
..My Aye's set to second the notion(or motion)- "Bill Gates should be honored" !
LEGENDARY Contributions... wow.
A related News article C/NET's "Bill Gates Big Send Off" where Mr. Gates talks about some of the early days, subtitle- "Co-founder shares surprises, letdowns, morsels from early Microsoft days" is kind of nice link to note for a mix on everyones spin on what this means today(30years later). I suppose an event in honor would have its own webpage and probably a guestbook, though I'd like to see the comments roll-on on here.

Even though he will probably stay busy with things like The Bill And Melinda Gates Foundation, I can't help to wonder what he may find to do next after this retiring.
I thought it funny that maybe for fun, you all could get together on McCains proposed prize for a battery, inventing something even better, not requiring a battery.
Just to say, $300 Million, "batteries not included"...

The thought has accured that someday computer memory may give them a chance to define some reflection of this legend after some aliasing affect on their own routien spins; the phenomenon that they too would have proofed enough the benifits of their fabrics of your design, and define it as meaningful for all of your time; for them to say theirselves, "thanks, again."

14 Tech luminaries' good-byes to Gates, I add a ditto of each of the above, and with an Aye to add "in the honoring of", and a BlueWindow says "Good-Bytes!"


C/NET's "Bill Gates Big Send Off" Page .1)
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://ghostship1.groups.msn.master.com/texis/master/redir/?u=http%3A//news.cnet.com/Gates-big-send-off/2009-1014_3-6242276.html%3Ftag%3Dnefd.lede" target="_newWindow">http://ghostship1.groups.msn.master.com/texis/master/redir/?u=http%3A//news.cnet.com/Gates-big-send-off/2009-1014_3-6242276.html%3Ftag%3Dnefd.lede</a>
June 24, 2008 4:00 AM PST
Posted by diib (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
To all of you Bill haters. You're all not even worth the dirt Bill Gates walks on.
Posted by developIT (31 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dear Yarlq :
what have " you " done ?
Posted by felix640 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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