Gates, only 50, retires in two years
THREE DECADES after he started Microsoft with the dream of placing a personal computer in every home and business, Bill Gates on Thursday said he would leave his day-to-day role in the company in two years.india Updated: Jun 17, 2006 01:16 IST
THREE DECADES after he started Microsoft with the dream of placing a personal computer in every home and business, Bill Gates on Thursday said he would leave his day-to-day role in the company in two years.
Gates will shift his energies to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which his Microsoft fortune has made the largest philanthropic organisation, handing out a grant of $1 billion annually for health and education issues.
On Microsoft's Redmond campus, Gates, 50, said he was not leaving the company altogether. He planned to remain as chairman and to maintain his large holding in it.
But the move, analysts said, pointed to changes sweeping the software industry. Probably more than any other person, Gates has been identified with personal computer software, while the centre of gravity in computing is increasingly shifting to the internet.
Gates's college classmate and business partner of 26 years, Steven A. Ballmer, will remain the CEO of Microsoft, a post he assumed in 2000. The transition will begin immediately, Gates said, with his role as chief software architect taken over by Ray Ozzie, who conceived Lotus Notes in the 1980s.
Gates made efforts to minimise his role at Microsoft, saying it had the ability to innovate and lead despite his diminished presence. "The world has had a tendency to focus a disproportionate amount of attention on me," he said.
"The change we're seeing today is not a retirement, it's a reordering of my priorities," Gates said. He said his primary motivation was a desire to spend more time on the issues he decided to attack with his foundation, whose resources will swell as Gates makes good on his commitment to shift most of his fortune, said to be around $50 billion.
But his decision to begin scaling back comes at a critical juncture for Microsoft. Although its profits are $1 billion a month, Wall Street has grown increasingly critical of its inability to make significant headway in new markets as diverse as video games and Web advertising.