Gosh, has it been that fast already? It’s been 2 years since Bill Gates announced his official departure from his post at Microsoft, and his much heralded “Last Speech” at CES 2008 was marked with the sort of reverence reserved for religious figures. He leaves Microsoft in a cloud of heavy criticism–“lost core competency” being the main one, with the disastrous flop of Vista and their ever-losing battle against Google for advertising space coming under heavy fire from the tech community.
But, argues ol’ coot Dvorak, you haven’t seen the last of Gates yet. In fact, it’s this heavy weather that Gates may want after all prior to his departure; leave the company in less-than-healthy circumstances, and then later come back like a saviour some time later in a Messianic cloud of glory. Michael Dell has done it recently, Steve Jobs has done it, and heck, even Starbuck’s Howard Schultz pulled it off last week. And they’ve been both hailed as heroes. So why not take a crack at it? Here’s an excerpt of the column:
I, for one, am not buying any of it. And I actually think I know what Bill is up to: It should be interesting, since his possible plan is not trivial, if it’s going to work.
Let me explain.
Bill would like to extract himself completely from Microsoft, so he can let the company drift. If Ballmer quits, and they don’t promote from within by letting Jeff Raikes or some other trained clone of Gates take over, then the company is doomed to follow the path we’ve already witnessed with Apple.
Then, according to plan, Gates would have no choice but to return to save the company. And while there is no originality here, if he could do this, it would be spectacular. It would even top the Steve Jobs “Return of the Prodigal Son” act, since Microsoft is enormous compared to the early-era Apple.
But Bill is at a dead end at Microsoft. Thus, he takes a page from historian Arnold Toynbee and decides to pull off a classic “withdraw and return” gambit, which could result in great success. Napoleon and Jobs both did it, not that I should be comparing the two (well, maybe).
Gates always seems to be in his element when he’s crushing Borland or kicking Sun or smashing Netscape. At his best, he’s the nerd from hell. So now, after all that, he drifts into becoming the namby-pamby head of a charity, dealing with people begging for money? Are you kidding me? I don’t think so.
Hey Bill, you’re not fooling me.
Of course, no post of Gates’s departure would be complete without his hilarious Final Day video, which, for one week, made him pwn Jobs.