Interview with Bill Gates -- "I would rather make a bet than just sit and watch" (page 4)

Interview with Bill Gates

Apr 9, 2001

Q:It seems the dotcom fad is cooling down in the U.S.

A:The dotcom mania has returned to a more sober approach. A lot of people who went and worked for startups are now saying, "Hey, it's really long-term R&D. It's really long-term commitment that allows you to do great products." This is creating a very positive environment for us in hiring the best people.

Q: So you're spending more time now with technology?

A:Ever since I became Chief Software Architect, I've had more time working with developers. When I was CEO, I spent about 40% of my time on technical issues. Now, I can spend about 80%. I'm having a lot of fun. Sometimes, I write sample codes just to know how a tool works or how hard it is to write XML programs. But my most important mission is to hire the most capable people and guide them so that they won't go into wrong directions.

Q: Do you think the high-tech industry is at a turning point?

A:There is no year in history that was not the key year. The present is always the key year.

Q: As symbolizes the phrase "dog year," one year is like seven with all the changes taking place?

A:The pace of change in the 70s, 80s, 90s and this decade has been very fast but it's not dramatically faster. The pace has been more or less the same for the past thirty years. It's not that changes are faster in one year and slower in another. Just like the Moore's law, technology innovation is advancing at a fixed pace.

Q: In Japan, we say a company's lifespan is thirty years. Microsoft is about to become 26 years old.

A:It depends on the industry. In a business like Coca-Cola, for example, they don't have to make big bets because they are sure to be around thirty years from now. But in an industry like ours, you really have to do breakthrough every four or five years. You have to take risks and renew your company. The .NET strategy is a big bet and Xbox is a big bet. I'm not an astrologer and I haven't looked up in the sky to see the lifespan of a company. But I think it's the quality of the people, the products and partnerships that create the life of a company.