Accessibility links

Breaking News

Bill Gates to Scale Back Duties at Microsoft


Bill Gates, the man who built the world's largest software company, says he will give up his daily management duties at Microsoft in two years to devote more time to his charitable foundation. As VOA's Mil Arcega reports, Gates' departure is expected to have little impact on the software company but a tremendous one on the health of people in developing countries.

At age 50, he's already revolutionized the computer industry, and now Bill Gates says he wants to change the world again -- in a different way.

"The change we're now seeing today is not a retirement, it's just a re-ordering of my priorities," said Mr. Gates at the announcement.

Speaking at Microsoft headquarters in Seattle, Gates said he was relinquishing his day-to-day management role at Microsoft in order to commit himself full-time to more charitable pursuits.

"Smart, committed people with the right support and vision can have a huge impact; it's about using technology, not just for the privileged few but for everyone."

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said it was time for the 50-year-old billionaire to leave the company he founded to become, in his words, "the greatest philanthropist of all time."

Over the last decade, Gates has worked to improve health conditions in Third World countries. Eleven years ago, Gates and his wife Melinda created the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation to eradicate killer diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria.

"If you take just some of the basic medicines we have here, the vaccinations that we have,” said Melinda, “we so take for granted for our children, measles, hepatitis B, and you take those advances to Africa, you can change a child's life."

Some analysts believe Gates' departure from daily operations will have little impact on Microsoft's overall business strategy. Matthew Fordahl, the Technology Editor at the Associated Press says, regardless of what happens, Gates' legacy as founder of the world's most popular computer operating system is already assured.

"The fact that he is staying with the company as chairman, means that people will continue to associate his face with Microsoft,” said Mr. Fordahl. “As far as the business community goes, Bill Gates has been a polarizing figure, some people dislike his tactics, but everyone agrees that he has been successful.

And Fred Vogelstein, senior writer at Wired Magazine says he has no doubt the world's richest man, now worth an estimated $50 billion, has the resources to achieve his goals.

"He will be engaged. He has the money to make things happen and he has the brain power to make sure that things get done the way he wants them done."

With assets of more than $29 billion -- more than the gross domestic product of some third world countries -- the Gates' foundation is the world's largest philanthropic organization -- donating more than $10 billion since 1995.