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Bill Gates - Candidate for the Presidency of the United States?
U.S. President Barak Obama has branded him a corporate welfare bum --- town gossips claim he is a trillionaire --- the Old Timer lives in subsidized housing and spends his days dumpster diving

09-Sep-06 -

In June Bill Gates announced he's retiring from actively managing Microsoft. In the last 25 years Gates has ridden Microsoft from nowhere to a $46 billion+ fortune. Gates claims he will devote his time and abilities to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Through the Foundation, Gates and his wife, Melinda, have given $29 BILLION to fight diseases - most visibly AIDS; and to build better doors to education - they've donated $1 billion to the United Negro College Fund alone. But the Gates, unlike many sugar daddies and mommies, go in on the ground to see that their gifts are properly administered - ruthlessly. In June, Warren Buffet topped up the Gates Foundation with most of his fortune - more than $30 BILLION. Buffet is America's top corporate manager, an intimate of Bill Gates (but a generation older), razor sharp in his assessments of managers and leaders.

50 years ago Gates would have been branded a model American can-do. Gates, born in 1955, started in the computer software business at age 17, persuaded IBM to use his DOS "operating system" for its new PC computers in 1980; in 1990, faced with Apple Computers picture-menu ("GUI - pronounced /gooey") system, soon fought his way to the top of the GUI heap with a look-alike system called Windows; in 1995 levered his marketing power to oust Internet pioneer Netscape as alpha dog in the internet gateway ("browser") market. Attacked by the U.S. government for setting up a monopoly, Gates fought through the courts and forced the government to settle.

Gates often dumped new products into the market before they were anywhere near perfected and made unnecessary product changes. Gates became the symbol frustrated customers loved to hate.

The work of the Foundation has mellowed Gates' ruthless image. And Americans love wealth and celebrity. Yesterday Bill Gates and ex-President Bill Clinton star-powered one of a number of "conversation sessions" at the 16th World's AIDS Conference in Toronto. Delegates deserted all the other sessions, crowded corridors and doorways for a glimpse of Gates and Clinton.

Until recently Gates showed no interest in politics - the myopic Gates (see Time's 1997 profile ) focuses only on his own immediate interests. The work of the Foundation has brought politics into his range of vision. Gates, so powerful for so long in Microsoft and the world of computers, is probably addicted to power. Sounds like a candidate for President of the United States.

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