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The Guardian: Grumpy Gates eclipsed by rising stars at Davos, Switzerland, meeting

Jan 13, 2001, 18:03 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ken Auletta)

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"Bill Gates was angry when he arrived at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January 1998. His anger was palpable, and it surprised many who did not know him but knew well the multiple reasons he had not to be angry: the planet's richest man was the co-founder of Microsoft, a company that for 23 years had outflanked and outthought its competitors, a company whose Windows software now served as the essential code in about 90% of all personal computers, a company whose stock price made it the world's most highly valued."

"[Sony's CEO Nobuyuki] Idei thought Gates had reason to be unsure: "Microsoft is very uncertain about their future business model." In the two decades he had known Gates, Idei had never seen him so tentative. In halting English, this thin, taciturn man who wore a white silk shirt with a round collar buttoned at the top, said he thought Microsoft was slipping because their "business model is totally in danger."

"Big companies will be assaulted by hordes of what Idei called "ants" - by free-software programmers using Linux, by copyright pirates, by makers of portable devices that access the internet. "A big company, like a dinosaur, will be eaten up by the ants," he said. Only the very large or the very small may survive, with those in between nibbled to death by the ants or crushed."

Complete Story

The Future of Microsoft, "World War 3.0: Ken Auletta's book on Microsoft," home page for Guardian series of which this story is a part

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