Gates Denies CEO Return Amidst Windows 8 Woes, Would Rather Help the Poor
January 21, 2014 6:34 PM
(Source: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation)
Former CEO remains focuses on charity, says no country will be "poor" by today's standards by 2035
William Henry "Bill" Gates III
, former CEO and co-founder of Microsoft Corp. (
), had some good news for third world countries -- by 2035 there will likely be no "poor" countries by today's standards. Today, Gates is known for
his philanthropic work
fighting poverty and disease
in developing nations.
I. Poverty Can be Defeated, Says Gates
The world's richest man said in the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
's annual letter to donors that by 2035 -- 21 years from now -- he expects all 35 countries currently classified as "low-income" by the world bank, to reach the modest levels of income. He predicts 70 percent of nations will at least reach the level of average inflation adjusted income seen today in China, and 90 percent will reach at least the levels seen today in India.
He says that the currently impoverished countries most at risk include a handful of countries controlled by extremist political regimes like North Korea and a handful of countries with challenging geographical locations, such as the countries of war-torn Central Africa. Still he feels even these countries have hope of prosperity within a couple of decades.
In the letter he attacked the idea that charitable donations to the third world are wasted via local corruption. He points to the vital role of donations in reducing
the number of nations with active polio cases
from 125 in 1988 to 3 today.
Bill and Melinda Gates visit India in 2011 for charitable work.
[Image Source: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation]
He pointed skeptics to a commissioned study from his foundation and its economic partners, which was published in
a special report
, the medical organization known for its titular prestigious peer-reviewed journal. The December report predicts that by 2035 child mortality rates will fall to those of the U.S. or UK in the 1980s -- even the rate in today's poorest nations.
He also took issue with the belief that a more prosperous third world would lead to overpopulation.
He commented in a
The facts are on the side of the optimists. It’s actually dangerous that people are focusing on the bad news and not seeing the progress we’ve made. It means they don’t look at the best practices, it makes them less generous.
The belief that the world is getting worse, that we can’t solve extreme poverty and disease, isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful. By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. In two decades it will be better still.
Headlines in a way are what mislead you because bad news is a headline and gradual improvement is not. We almost have to take a letter like this and speak out and say, ‘Wait a minute, despite how bad we feel about what’s not yet done, we have some approaches that work.’ And the cynicism is holding us back.
If he's right that will be great news for the third world/developing world and for humanity in general.
II. No Return to Microsoft CEO Spot for Gates
While Mr. Gates had good news for charities, he had not so good news for Microsoft -- he's not coming back, despite the company's
Mr. Gates steered the company through years of record growth, establishing Windows as the dominant computer operating system. Unlike Steve Jobs, who had to leave Apple, Inc. (
) and mature before returning, Mr. Gates always seemed mature ahead of his years. And since he's left Microsoft, he's been mature enough to stand by his decision not to come back, despite the temptation of his old post.
his retirement in 2000
successor Steve Ballmer
has had more of a hit or miss track record with success
such as Windows XP
and flops such as
Bill Gates steered Microsoft through its boom years. [Image Source: Corbis]
with Microsoft struggling
increasingly integral mobile market
, the company's relevance is arguably at its lowest point in a couple of decades. PC sales
are in historic decline
. OEMs are
turning their backs on Windows 8
, offering customers
the ability to pick Windows 7 instead
Those struggles forced CEO Steve Ballmer --
Bill Gates' hand-groomed successor
announce an early retirement
, leaving the CEO seat vacant.
Some might argue that Microsoft is a charity case these days, and Bill Gates should try to save it. But Mr. Gates, who is leading the CEO search committee, refuted rumors that he might return to lead his troubled firm back to success.
My full-time work will be with the foundation for the rest of my life. [In terms of the urgency of selecting the CEO] you always feel that way, but then again you want to pick the best person. They'll move at the right pace.
This isn't the first time Bill Gates has been forced to deny a return.
In 2012 he resoundingly denied rumors
that he might return to Microsoft as CEO.
While that news may disappoint the Microsoft faithful, he did add a bit of reassurance commenting that he already is "help[ing] out part time" at the company, and that he will act as an advisor to the new CEO, whoever it may be as they navigate these troubled times for the company.
Well, that's better than nothing, at least.
Windows Device chief Stephen Elop (right) is among those rumored to possibly replace Steve Ballmer (left) as Microsoft's CEO. [Image Source: Reuters]
for the high-pressure position include
Microsoft Devices chief Stephen Elop
CEO of Nokia
)) or former Skype CEO-turned-Microsoft chief evangelist/business development head Tony Bates.
Bill Gates has committed to
donate nearly all of his massive fortune
to charity by his death, slowly selling off shares in Microsoft. While he
remains chairman of the company
and its largest shareholder, he's been slowly cutting his financial ties with the firm in the name of his charitable goals.
Mr. Gates owned 49 percent of Microsoft shares when the company went public in 1986, but entered a plan to sell off his holdings on a pre-set basis, selling about 80 million shares a year. Sales to date have reduced Mr. Gates' stake to 4.5 percent of current shares, or about $12.4B USD worth of stock. The share sales plan will eliminate Mr. Gates' ownership entirely by 2018, at which point he would presumably step down as board chairman -- a spot reserved for a top investor.
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