Tim O’Reilly’s writeup of the recent Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer panel at All Things Digital was refreshing. He passes on BillG’s very useful advice of staying very scrappy and fiscally conservative. He also makes some mention that, indeed, Bill had a massive vision for the world of computing that has an impact. Finally, he points out the strong value of having a great partner when starting and building a company–on this front, I think it’d be hard to point to a more valuable, sustaining relationship that Bill and Steve. (I envision it as the Lennon / McCartney of the business world.)
On a separate dimenson, though, it was generous and appropriate of Mr. O’Reilly to point out that more probably should have been done to highlight and celebrate Bill Gates’ tremendous contributions to the industry. Yes, Microsoft is feared and by some in the Valley hated. Still, at his core, Bill is someone who deserves recognition and respect. He had a massive vision and he pursued it relentlessly, and it’s hard to overstate the massive impact Gates has had on our industry as a whole. In my few meetings with him, Bill’s struck me as driven and hard core, but also as decent and fair.
If you imagine that Jobs were standing aside, I’m sure there would have been a massive celebration and look back by Swisher and Mossberg. You may have a worse taste in your mouth about Gates, but he’s built a tremendous company, and they should have done more.
Thanks Mr. O’Reilly for pointing this out and giving Gates some respect.