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Bill Gates: Microsoft's Skype Deal Champion

In a BBC news report, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates said he helped in backing Microsoft to get the $8.5 billion deal with Skype wrapped up. "I was a strong proponent at the board-level for the deal being done," said Gates in BBC's Hardtalk program.

Whether he was integral in the formation, research and negations of the deal, or just had a hand in convincing the other board members to go along with it, remains to be seen. The one thing that I can say is that no matter the outcome of the merger, whether it's a check in the win or loss column for Microsoft, Gates' present position is a great one to be in.

Think about it, if the Skype deal ends up propelling Microsoft stock in the future, Gates is allowed some bragging rights, and can point back to how he supported and took part in convincing the other board members to crack open the company checkbook.

On the other hand, if this ends up being a colossal waste of money and potential, then Gates doesn't end up looking like the bad guy. He made this clear by commenting in the same interview that it's now all in the hands of Microsoft's development team and execs. That puts the pressure on the company and its leader, Steve Ballmer.

As for the current (at least official) face of Microsoft, CEO Ballmer has already taken his hits for the acquisition due to the hefty price tag, an unclear picture of what his plans for the technology and the overall lack of vision in just buying up new tech. If this becomes a money pit for Microsoft, nobody will remember that Gates talked to some board members in passing to go along with the deal, but they will know whose door they will be knocking on for answers.

Does Gates deserve some of the praise (or boos) of the Skype deal? Let Doug know at dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Chris Paoli on 05/18/2011 at 1:18 PM


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