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Microsoft’s Aﬀect on the Word Bill Gates: how a geek changed the world By Charles Miller BBC Money Programme Bill Gates ends his full-time job at Microsoft on a Friday afternoon and the company opens for business after the weekend as if nothing has changed. At least, that is how Gates' successors want to play it. The 'transition,’ as it is called inside the company, was announced two years ago. On the face of it, the only diﬀerence after 27 June will be that Gates will be non-executive chairman rather than executive chairman, spending just one day a week on Microsoft business. Seamless transition? The new leaders, none much younger than Gates himself, mix warm tributes to their founder with reassurances that all will be ne without him. What they're going to lose is that founding focus, and the ability to rally the troops Charlene Li, Forrester Research Timeline: Bill Gates Career So Ray Ozzie, who took on Gates' role as chief software architect two years ago, says the company is now so big there is "no single point of failure.” And Steve Ballmer, Gates' long-time partner, and chief executive since 2000, says Microsoft "won't miss a beat" as a result of next week's move. But Gates' departure has a symbolic value that no amount of PR planning can avoid. Microsoft staﬀers who don't know the oﬃcial company line happily admit that "Bill is Microsoft.” And outsiders agree: "No-one speaks Microsoft, lives Microsoft, embodies Microsoft as Bill Gates does," says Charlene Li, from consultants Forrester Research. "What they're going to lose is that founding focus, and the ability to rally the troops." Gates' achievement since seing up Microsoft in 1975 has been world-changing. Mission statement He has all but accomplished his famous mission statement, to put "a computer on every desk and in every home" - at least in developed countries. And Microsoft's extraordinary nancial performance - with pro t margins still an enviable 30% - has made him the richest man in the world for 13 straight years according to Fortune magazine's authoritative list. To those who say the computer revolution would have happened without him, he can point out that more than 90% of computers run Microsoft's Windows. With programming skills to add credibility to his business success, he is a hard act to follow.
Steve Ballmer is a big character with a strong track record at Microsoft, but he will never acquire Gates' status. For Gates, all the PR positives have been counterbalanced by Microsoft's apparently endless anti-trust bales, and the leagues of Microsoft-haters among the technorati, who persist in thinking of Microsoft as the evil empire. But Gates' altruism is a new factor puing him on the side of the angels. In his post-Microsoft life, he will be concentrating on giving away his money - promoting research into neglected diseases and nding other ways to improve the lives of the poor of the world. For even the most cynical, it's hard to argue that his $30bn donation to his Foundation, with the promise of more to come over the years ahead, is some kind of grand public relations exercise. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation claims to be the world's biggest philanthropic organization, and none have yet stepped forward to contradict that. Even with Gates only popping in as a part-timer, Microsoft looks set fair for a good few years. Its cash cows, Windows and Oﬃce, still earn huge sums and there are new enterprises such as Xbox and Windows Server, IT in the heart of businesses, that are substantial and growing. Threats The company makes weekly pro ts of almost a 1bn. That's about four times as much as Google. But deep in the psyche of the company is a fear that just as IBM de ned the rst computer generation and was displaced by Microsoft, so Microsoft could nd itself part of the technology infrastructure rather than at the cuing edge. And the size and solidity of its pro ts oﬀer no protection against that. Ray Ozzie admits Microsoft, like other technology giants, always needs to fear "two guys in a garage" who come up with something new and move fast. Some say that has already happened. "Much as IBM was the de ning company in the seventies," says technology writer John Baelle, "and Microsoft in the nineties, I think that this is Google's decade." Microsoft's recent aempt to buy Yahoo! is a sign that behind the soothing mood music from company HQ is a sense of urgency about the future. And it has much to do with Google's ever-expanding portfolio of services, any of which could join its runaway search engine as a source of big pro ts. Gates himself is keen to keep the Yahoo! bid in perspective, pointing out that if it had been successful it would have represented just 15% of the value of Microsoft. But it would still have been Microsoft's biggest acquisition, and the bid itself drew aention to the company's poor results from its online businesses. A botched Yahoo! bid has been, in many ways, the worst possible way of marking Gates' departure. The internet is a high pro le part of the company's business to which Gates himself has devoted considerable time and energy. It was back in 1995 that he wrote his famous company memo, warning of the "internet tidal wave". He said the internet would be as big as the original PC revolution. It was considered an impressive example of his ability to make the company "turn on a dime". Today Microsoft has extensive web oﬀerings and there's an acceptance that online advertising will be an important part of the revenue mix in future. But there's relatively lile in new income to show from the online focus of the past decade and more. As Gates leaves to pursue his altruistic work, the internet increasingly looks like un nished business for Microsoft.
Kevin Johnson: Facebook and Microsoft Expand Strategic Alliance Conference Remarks by Kevin Johnson, President, Platforms & Services Division, Microsoft Corporation and Owen Van Naa, Vice President, Operations and Chief Revenue Oﬃcer, Facebook Facebook and Microsoft Expand Strategic Alliance Conference Palo Alto, Calif., and Redmond, Wash. Oct. 24, 2007 (Operator Direction.) VIVEK VARMA: Thank you. Thank you for joining us. I'm Vivek Varma with Microsoft. I'm joined for the announcement today by Owen Van Naa, Chief Revenue Oﬃcer for Facebook; Brandee Barker, director of corporate communications for Facebook; and Kevin Johnson, President of the Platforms and Services division at Microsoft. First a couple of housekeeping notes. There will be a replay of this call available for one week. The toll free number is 866.435.1324, and the international number is 203.369.1020. Also, you'll note from Microsoft on today's call we will not be discussing results or guidance for our quarter just ended for the scal year or other topics normally handled in our earnings call to take place tomorrow. I wanted to take a quick moment to run through the press release. We had a couple of errors on the press release that went over the wire. There will be a reissue. I am going to now read the press release, the nal press release between Facebook and Microsoft. Sorry for the confusion on that. So, Facebook and Microsoft expand strategic alliance, the two companies expand advertising deal to cover international markets; Microsoft to take equity stake in Facebook. Facebook and Microsoft Corp today announced that the two companies would expand their advertising partnership, and that Microsoft will take a $240 million equity stake in Facebook's next round of nancing at a $15 billion valuation. Under the expanded strategic alliance, Microsoft will be the exclusive third-party advertising platform partner for Facebook, and will begin to sell advertising for Facebook internationally, in addition to the United States. "We are pleased to take our Microsoft partnership to the next level," said Owen Van Naa, chief revenue oﬃcer, Facebook. "We think this expanded relationship will allow Facebook to continue to innovate and grow as a technology leader and major player in social computing, as well as bring relevant advertising to nearly 50 million active users of Facebook." "Making this investment and expanding this partnership will position Microsoft and Facebook to beer take advantage of advertising opportunities around the world, and is a great win for not only for our two companies, but also our collective users and advertisers," said Kevin Johnson, president of the Platforms and Services Division at Microsoft. "We have partnered well over the past year and look forward to doing some exciting things together in the future. The opportunity to further collaborate as advertising partners is a big reason we have decided to take an equity stake, and is a strong statement of our con dence in the long-term economics of this partnership." Facebook continues to experience strong growth both in the U.S. and international markets. Almost 60 percent of Facebook's users are outside the U.S. With an average of 250,000 new users registering each day, Facebook continues to be one of the most traﬃcked sites on the Internet. On Aug. 22, 2006, the companies announced a U.S.-only strategic alliance that named Microsoft the exclusive provider of standard banner advertising on Facebook using Microsoft's digital advertising solutions, and the Microsoft adCenter platform. In early 2007, the terms were extended to 2011. With that scintillating reading of the press release, I'm going to turn it over to Owen and Kevin, if there are any additional comments from the two of them, and then we'll go to questions, operator.
Gates' big-picture memos shaped Microsoft, changed tech world Bill Gates, who today ends his full-time involvement with the company he and Paul Allen cofounded 33 years ago, was often right. The Microsoft empire of 91,200 employees, billions in pro t and ubiquitous products stands as testament. By Benjamin J. Romano Seale Times Gates gives an update on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's work in agriculture at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland early this year. He made a career, a company and an industry by looking over the horizon and charting a course. Bill Gates, who today ends his full-time involvement with the company he and Paul Allen cofounded 33 years ago, was often right. The Microsoft empire of 91,200 employees, billions in pro t and ubiquitous products stands as testament. Now, Seale's most famous son points his full intellect and aention to the world's poor, giving them a voice in a global market that responds disproportionately to the rich. Microsoft's success, which has enabled Gates, 52, to launch a second career that could install him as history's greatest philanthropist, was not a sure thing. Aided by a growing crew of technical and business smart guys, Gates spoed opportunities and challenges, and pushed his company toward them. He wrote a series of course-seing memos to lead the company in these new directions — a new computer interface, the Internet, computer security. They stand as signposts at several key junctures in Microsoft's history. The 1995 Internet memo in particular marked an important turning point, when Microsoft's huge software success confronted an uncertain future online. In many cases, these prescient missives launched the company toward evergreater heights. But even Gates couldn't see everything coming. And he knew it. The con dent competitor was also constantly paranoid that an unknown would seize the next big trend in technology and ride it past Microsoft. It drove him to be vigilant and abhor complacency, an important imprint Gates leaves on Microsoft. "We never come into work and say, 'Hey, we're golden. You know, hey, let's just lie around today,' " Gates said in an interview with The Seale Times last week. "That's not our culture. And so it's a hungry company, and it's always thinking. ... "microsoft cartoons