I can only offer my in sites on this one but it is one of the most common questions I am asked. When I started Billg was already a celebrity. But remember the company was small (7500 people) and he still made every big decision. In customer service we had people come over from the Product Group nearly every week talking about the next release of the Microsoft Mouse, Works, Excel, etc..Without fail they would always say they recently had their Billg review. In those days no product moved forward or shipped without Billg’s approval. In some instances Billg would even make code modification’s. What I would learn later is in these reviews Billg would ask a lot of questions. If you were on the receiving end of his Q&A it was ok to say “Bill I don’t know, I will get back to you”. However if you tried to talk your way out of it, Billg would rip your heart out and eat it. Bill was more volatile back then and I would say a lot more fun. A writer for Wired magazine who was reflecting on those days said something to the affect “In those days a Bill Gates interview was one of the most exciting interviews you could do, if you did not come prepared with intelligent questions he would throw you under the bus in a heartbeat”. I remember reading some of those interviews in Infoweek where a reporter was not prepared. It started poorly and ended quickly, I miss that Billg, but he was young, arrogant, single and mega rich. The Microsoft mission statement was the classic “A PC in every home and on every desktop”. It was Bill (and Paul Allen’s) vision and dream. Today I don’t think most people at Microsoft know what the mission statement is. In those days everyone knew what the goal was and we were all driving towards Bill’s goal. In one of our training rooms a quote hung on the door from Billg “Someday we will all look back at this and see what an amazing journey it was”. When I die I won’t be able to argue with that.
Another thing that was definitely a big part of Microsoft and I learned this on my first week was philanthropy. Microsoft had just finished its annual United Way campaign. I think if you look back at Microsoft history you can largely attribute this to Bill’s mom, Mary Gates. It was her United Way meeting that led IBM to Microsoft, but that’s another story It is a cool part of Microsoft’s culture that still survives to this day. A lot of people have said through the years that Bill only became interested in charity after he got married. A bunch of garbage is all it amounts to – the Gates family has a history of charity and Bill brought that with him to Microsoft.
Well that is all for this early Saturday morning. I have kids soccer to coach, middle child’s hockey practice, a house to clean and football to be watched. Makes me wonder how I ever had time to work. Have a nice Saturday everyone.