Tag Archives: Microsoft

The Plot to Get Bill Gates (1999)

TPTGBGThe Plot to Get Bill Gates: An Irreverent Investigation of the World’s Richest Man … and the People Who Hate Him (1999) is a book by Gary Rivlin. The book is not only about Bill Gates and how he created the world’s largest fortune, it is also about the “other sovereigns” (computer industry entrepreneurs) who wanted to and tried to “get” Bill Gates. In Rivlin’s own words, his book is  “a fun, warts and all look at the World’s Richest Man and the corporate titans who, despite their age and all the’ve accomplished, become teen-boy-like obsessed with proving themselves bigger, better, or smarter than Gates.”

So, who are these corporate titans who desperately tried, but ultimately failed, to unseat Bill Gates. Rivlin discusses Jim Manzi of Lotus and Phillipe Kahn of Borland in the 1980s, Ray Noorda of Novell, Larry Ellison of Oracle, and Scott McNealy of Sun in the 1990s. By the turn of the century, Gates was so successful, so dominant, and so rich that he was outside the reach of most (if not all!) business tycoons. And, then of course, there was the US Government and the EU who went after Microsoft and Bill Gates, but ultimately had to back down. Rivlin himself seems to be no Gates fan either, as is description on Gates suggests:

Gates “voice is a high-pitched whistle that teteers on the edge of whininess, giving his talks a pleading, almost desperate sound. He speaks with a forced enthusiasm, tinny and false, and exudes no warmth, humor, or personality, despite hours of sessions with a speach coach. His one asset on stage, other than his fame, is his ample memory. He never fails to touch each of his talking points.”

This book is certainly an interesting read. At 342 pages it may be considered somewhat long, but what makes it particularly engaging is the description of “behind-the-scenes’ strategies and tactics that were employed by companies as they competed to dominate the computer industry. So many of the entrepreneurs, chief executives, and business tycoons who thought they could out-maneuvere Bill Gates have been relegated to the footnotes of history. For people who like to understand how things came to be the way they did, this is a great book!

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Bill Gates (2000)

BGBill Gates : Genius of the software revolution and master of the information age (2000) is a short book about Microsoft Chairman and World’s Richest Person William Henry Gates III (or Bill Gates) by Robert Heller. This book is part of the Business Masterminds series of books. Unlike most other books on Bill Gates, the purpose of this book is to present a simple story about the world’s richest person, a self-made multi-billionaire. The book is dividing into 5, nay 6, sections. The book starts with ashort summary chapter on Bill Gates, which is followed by 5 chapters: (1) IT changes absolutely everything, (2) Building a knowledge economy, (3) Developing software that sells, (4) Dividing, delegating, and leading, (5) Turning vision into value. It acknowledges Bill Gates, and by extension Microsoft’s, strengths- “Creating the industry standard”, and its weaknesses- inability to predict “the all encompassing future of the internet”.

According to Heller, Gates is “an engaging, bespectacled, highly intelligent and articulate man, physically restless and with great mental agility…He reads voluminously, even in odd moments, specializes in multi-tasking (doing many things at once”, and somehow contrives to give the running of Microsoft his full attention, while also spending much time on public relations.” Heller also notes that Gates “appears to have no outside interests other than his family, his Porches and his magnificent, technology-crammed lakeside mansion in Medini, Washington”. Heller acknowledges that Gates’ “predictive powers, however, have often failed him, most notably…the omission of the Internet from the first edition of the The Road Ahead.”   

Bill Gates is certainly a popular subject for writers and makes for an interesting book story. So, the question is what makes Robert Heller’s book worth reading? Why should someone take the time to read this book about Bill Gates? I think this book is most appropriate for an audience who has never read any book or in-depth article about Bill Gates. People who have read other, more comprehensive books about Bill Gates are unlikely to find much (perhaps any!) new information or story in this book. But those who have never read anything about Bill Gates outside of what is printed in newspapers or appears on TV are likely to find this book useful to get a better understanding of the man “whose actions have spoken louder than words in making him both prime mover and chief figurehead of the Age of Information.”

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