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Globe and Mail: History Bytes a Big Mac Out of Microsoft

Mar 03, 2003, 23:00 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ken Wiwa)

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"An unwritten historical law says that an empire is at its most vulnerable at the apex of its greatest power and influence. People don't live long enough to see the parabola of political empires but the life cycle of businesses is comparable. Take les Big Macs for instance--McDonald's and Microsoft...

"The current issue of Business Week serves up a dire forecast--'Hamburger Hell'--for the golden arches. However, there's hope: At 50, McDonald's is still young in business years. Business wisdom puts the average lifespan of a business at just over 100 years. After a century, direct links to the founders will disappear. But in our fast-food world, the lifespan of a business, or an empire, may be growing shorter--as Bill Gates might appreciate.

"The story that he lost 60 per cent of his wealth last year but remains the richest man on Earth is probably a sign of the changing nature of time and wealth. Has anyone ever accumulated, or lost, as much money as Mr. Gates in so short a time? You wonder whether Mr. Gates spent much of last year worrying about his shrinking fortune--my father used to say that rich men worry more about money than poor men--but I imagine he's spent a lot of sleepless nights worrying about penguins..."

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