In a rare and revealing new interview with Bill Gates, Gates discusses such topics as what he plans to do with his billions of dollars; if he ever plans to lead Microsoft again; his friendship with people like Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bono; his plans to change the world through his philanthropy; his 85 year-old father who shows up for work every day at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; his view on his "legacy," and MUCH more.
With so much information to behold in the new interview, I've decided to post a collection of 10 facts/passages from the interview. While some of what the interview covers may not be anything new for those of us who keep up with his affairs these days, this interview has shown that there is plenty none of us are aware of. And now, in no particular order of importance:
Bill Gates is friends with Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bono from U2. Oprah and Bill meet regularly and she has discussed signing his "Giving Pledge" to donate the bulk of her $2.7 billion estate to charity. Also, before Zuckerberg made his decision to donate $100 million to New Jersey schools, he approached Bill for advice on how to see his philanthropic endeavors through.
Bill Gates has confirmed that he plans to give his children a "minuscule" amount of his fortune. To quote: "They will be given an unbelievable education and that will all be paid for. And certainly anything related to health issues we will take care of. But in terms of their income, they will have to pick a job they like and go to work."
When asked if he would ever consider returning to the helm at Microsoft, Bill said no. To quote: His primary focus is his foundation's work.
Bill Gates' foundation has assets worth $37.1 billion. Warren Buffett has contributed shares, but despite the figures, Bill's plans are to give it all away.
On Monday in London, the GAVI Alliance (the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, which Gates co-founded in 2000) will kick off and Bill is expected to announce the successful raising of $3.7 billion to vaccinate 243 million children in the world’s poorest countries against illnesses such as pneumonia and measles. The hope is to save four million lives over the next four years.
Bill's 85 year-old father, Bill Sr, is co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and shows up to work on a daily basis. He played an integral role in the early underpinnings of the foundation by sending Bill "begging letters" that requested monies for what he considered to be worthy causes. Bill would write the checks and his father would send them out with brief notes included.
Contained in a letter to Melinda Gates, Bill's late mother, Mary Gates, sagaciously wrote, "From those to whom much is given, much is expected." Gates decided that vaccinating the world’s disadvantaged is a cost-effective, simple way to help the very poor.
Bill feels that speech and voice recognition are the next big thing.
When asked why he's not interested in investing into cures for cancer, Bill replied, "the world is putting massive amounts into cancer, so my wealth would have had a meaningless impact on that."
Windows and Office are the only two products in the world that have over a billion users.
One of the things I like the most about the article is that we get to see a human side of Bill Gates; specifically, when he talks about his family and the fact that the five of them go places in a minivan.
Bill Gates in a minivan. Awesome.
But there is plenty more, such as when he's asked if he has bought his children any Apple devices, like an iPod or iPad. The response is priceless and nothing short of what one would expect from the former CEO of Microsoft.
So even if you've been around through the highs and lows of Microsoft and all the crass decisions Bill Gates has been accused of making where destroying businesses is concerned, I highly recommend reading the interview in its entirety. Past endeavors aside, Bill is a man on a completely different and worthy mission these days: to use his wealth to influence the least of fortunate locations in the world in infinitely positive ways.
Now, I'd like to close with a passage from the article when he was asked about his "legacy." To quote:
"That’s the stupidest idea I’ve ever heard!
"Legacy is a stupid thing! I don’t want a legacy. If people look and see that childhood deaths dropped from nine million a year to four million because of our investment, then wow! I liken what I’m doing now to my old job. I worked with a lot of smart people; some things went well, some didn’t go so well. But when you see how what we did ended up empowering people, it’s a very cool thing.
"I want a malaria vaccine. If we get one then we’ll have to find the money to give it to everyone, but the impact would be so huge we would find a way. Understanding science and pushing the boundaries of science is what makes me immensely satisfied. What I’m doing now involves understanding maths, risk-taking. The first half of my life was good preparation for the second half."