Being a new employee at Microsoft leaves me at a bit of a disadvantage in weeks like this. First, we hear that our “chief blogging officer”, Robert Scoble is leaving the company. Today, it’s been announced that BillG will be stepping back his responsibilities at the companies once again. It is not like this wasn’t expected, but it is a bit disheartening, none-the-less.
Bill Gates has had a profound affect on my life. I grew up in a poor town with family that worked VERY hard to provide for us, but by no means were we wealthy. However, when I was writing code on my Atari 800XL in fifth grade, I told my mom that I would be working for Microsoft one day. Since then, Bill Gates’ drive has inspired this poor kid from East Liverpool, OH to succeed. No matter what life throws at you, who makes fun of you or attacks you with pies you can always come out on top. Like BillG, I didn’t finish college — but unlike Mr. Gates, I quit because I ran out of money. None-the-less, in my mind, I said “If Bill can succeed without a degree, so can I!” Over the years, my life has thrown one curve ball after another at me. I’ve had good times and bad. The one common factor in all those years has been Microsoft software; I’ve made my career of it; I’ve based my life on it; My house and my belt clip are embedded with it; I’ve tied my success (if I can call it that) to it. So with all of this said, it’s a deeply saddening experience to see the man who is responsible for getting it all started is now slowly backing out of his role here.
If you talk to the larger percentage of Microsoft employees, most of us have had little to no interaction with Bill. Our software goes in and out the door much without his micro-management or interference. How much of the Microsoft Office 2007 feature set was designed or coded by Mr. Gates? What drivers for Windows Vista do you think Bill had a part in creating? My guess is, very little of our software is directly controlled by Bill. Instead, he delegates those responsibilities as he sees fit.
I think it’s great that Bill gets to follow this path with his life. There is such an emphasis on giving at Microsoft. I’m proud to be part of a company that thinks about more than what goes on inside its own walls. I, too, intend to do charity work full time at some point in my life. I think, one again, Bill is setting an example for my own life. I obviously will not likely be able to do this to the same degree that Bill Gates is, but the example has been set and I admire the man.
Microsoft will go on making great software on and off the desktop for years to come and Bill is responsible for the spark that started this software industry off in such spectacular fashion. It’s time for someone else to take the torch and move on while Bill starts a new spark in charitable giving. If it’s possible for someone 11 levels under Mr Gates to say this, I’m proud of him for doing this and I can’t wait to see what he accomplishes with The Gates Foundation when he goes full time with it in 2008.
Good luck, Mr. Gates, and God Bless.