Bekker's Blog

Blog archive

Gates Still Working Behind the Scenes at Microsoft

Most of the headlines Bill Gates makes these days relate to his philanthropic work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or to his default role as a public intellectual. He's frequently quoted on topics ranging from technology trends to global health to economics to environmental issues to his current reading list.

Rarely any more is Gates deployed by Microsoft as an intentional public spokesman. Yet the Microsoft co-founder is still deeply involved in some operations at the company.

When Satya Nadella took over as CEO in early 2014, Microsoft made a point to communicate that Gates would be getting more involved on a week-to-week basis with the company than he had been during the latter part of Steve Ballmer's tenure as CEO.

"I'm thrilled that Satya has asked me to step up, substantially increasing the time that I spend at the company," Gates said in a welcome video accompanying Nadella's promotion to CEO. "I'll have over a third of my time available to meet with product groups, and it will be fun to define this next round of products, working together."

At the time, Gates' technical adviser role was widely viewed as a critical step to reassure investors that Nadella, who was less well-known on Wall Street than he was in Silicon Valley, would be able to handle the CEO job. Adding to the potential for investor skittishness was the simultaneous move by Microsoft to lower Gates' profile on the Microsoft board of directors by having him trade the chairman's role for a regular seat.

Most of those concerns have evaporated as Microsoft stayed near the forefront of a historic run in tech stocks over the last few years. Microsoft's stock value has roughly tripled on Nadella's watch. "He's done a good job of repositioning the company in investors' minds," Ballmer said of Nadella during an interview with Bloomberg in July.

Consequently, there's been a lot less attention paid to Gates' role at Microsoft. Nonetheless, in a pre-recorded Wired video segment about key moments in Gates' life and career that was posted last week, Gates confirmed that he's still putting in time with engineers and technical strategists in Redmond.

"Even to this day I do some architecture things on the various products," Gates said during the segment.

Posted by Scott Bekker on 10/22/2018 at 10:18 AM


Featured

  • Surface and ARM: Why Microsoft Shouldn't Follow Apple's Lead and Dump Intel

    Microsoft's current Surface flagship, the Surface Pro X, already runs on ARM. But as the ill-fated Surface RT showed, going all-in on ARM never did Microsoft many favors.

  • IT Security Isn't Supposed To Be Easy

    Joey explains why it's worth it to endure a little inconvenience for the long-term benefits of a password manager and multifactor authentication.

  • Microsoft Makes It Easier To Self-Provision PCs via Windows Autopilot When VPNs Are Used

    Microsoft announced this week that the Windows Autopilot service used with Microsoft Intune now supports enrolling devices, even in cases where virtual private networks (VPNs) might get in the way.

  • Most Microsoft Retail Locations To Shut Down

    Microsoft is pivoting its retail operations to focus more on online sales, a plan that would mean the closing of most physical Microsoft Store locations.

comments powered by Disqus

Office 365 Watch

Sign up for our newsletter.

Terms and Privacy Policy consent

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.