Thursday, July 27, 2006
End Of An Era...Bill Quits.
The world stirred five times in it's history- when fire was discovered, when wheel started rolling, when printing came on block, when computers were invented and when Internet came to life. We are a fortunate enough generation to have witnessed the last two of the epoch. If Google rules the minds of people in Internet era, it was certainly Bill Gates and his Microsoft Corp. which defined the preceding era.
General public has an interesting habit. They think that Nirma is nothing but another name for detergent powder, and Bajaj is not a poor fellow in Andaj Apna Apna, but ..a Scooter.
We are part of this general public. Most of us would die before we get to see an operating system other than Windows and DOS. (I strongly feel that there should be exhibitions and museums parading Linux and Macintosh, the other Operating Systems). Such was the genius and business acumen of this man called William Gates III.
When I think of his career, three things pop up to the mind immediately- one, he was immensely successful in achieving his aim- Software Empowerment of masses through a desktop on each desk. Look at today's world. Telling about how software has really empowered us is mere wastage of words. Second thing is monopolistic ambitions of Microsoft. Microsoft just ruled the fourth era. No competition. This caused heavy resentment against his business policies. Anti-trust suits and Microsoft are linked permanently. However I can't forget that this strategy was the reason why we know Sabeer Bhatia, and why the world knew (with a bang) Indian software talent. Third and most important thing is- Bill Gates and all values he represents are outdated actually in Google dominated Internet era. Microsoft model is based on aggressive marketing, heavy royalty through 'All rights reserved' tag, routing out the competition etc. Google however has brought a kind of information democracy in the Internet era. Google's revenue model differs from Microsoft totally. Low key marketing, 'Some rights reserved' strategy- which is more appropriate for the information age are the basic pillars of Google's model. Furthermore now the focus has also shifted from software to information and then to information services. In this scheme of things, Microsoft,MSN etc. were not the buzzwords (this may qualify for being an exaggeration). Bill left the post of CEO in 2000 for his long time associate Steve Ballmer. This year, he declared to transition away from Microsoft over next 2 years and (still) will remain Chairman after 2 years.
The world transitioned from Computer era to Internet era minus Bill, and look at the genius of the man, Bill has transitioned from an identity of the richest on earth to that of biggest donor on earth. Working through Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, he has now focused on the world health scenario and is sure to make a positive impact on it. He was also successful to get hefty donation from Warren Buffet who is also a richest like himself.
So, William Henry Gates III's exit from Microsoft is only a semicolon and not a full-stop. Let's see if his marriage of capitalism and society becomes successful or not.
(p.s. Here is a peep in the day of Bill- http://arstechnica.com/journals/microsoft.ars/2006/4/4/3461)