Accidental Empires, Chapter 8 — Software Envy

mitch&billACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER EIGHT

SOFTWARE ENVY

Mitch Kapor, the father of Lotus 1-2-3, showed up one day at my house but wouldn’t come inside. “You have a cat in there, don’t you?” he asked.

Not one cat but two, I confessed. I am a sinner.

Mitch is allergic to cats. I mean really allergic, with an industrial-strength asthmatic reaction. “It’s only happened a couple of times,” he explained, “but both times I thought I was going to die.”

People have said they are dying to see me, but Kapor really means it.

At this point we were still standing in the front yard, next to Kapor’s blue rental car. The guy had just […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 7 — All IBM Stories are True

IBM-PC-83ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER SEVEN

ALL IBM STORIES ARE TRUE

I live in California in a house that I can’t really afford in a neighborhood filled with blue-haired widows and with two-earner couples who have already made the jump from BMW to Acura and in their hearts are flirting with voting Republican.

Remember when life came mainly in black and white, and Wally and the Beav walked down a street as the credits rolled across them? That was my house they walked by on that tree-lined street, my 50-by-105 foot lot, my gnawing termites, my 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk dripping oil in the driveway, and my orange tree dropping oranges in the […]

Accidental Empires, Chapter 6 — Chairman Bill Leads the Happy Workers in Song

Young_Bill_Gates_4ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER SIX

CHAIRMAN BILL LEADS THE
HAPPY WORKERS IN SONG

William H. Gates III stood in the checkout line at an all-night convenience store near his home in the Laurelhurst section of Seattle. It was about midnight, and he was holding a carton of butter pecan ice cream. The line inched forward, and eventually it was his turn to pay. He put some money on the counter, along with the ice cream, and then began to search his pockets.

“I’ve got a 50-cents-off coupon here somewhere,” he said, giving up on his pants pockets and moving up to search the pockets of his plaid shin.

The clerk waited, the ice […]

Ballmer's Last Stand

Moving sucks. Our furniture arrived late last week so I’ve been off the clock for awhile and there is a lot of catching-up to do.  We’ll start with Microsoft and Windows 8, which I’ll argue are going to be formidable competitors in the tablet space, primarily because it’s that or start spending all that cash on diversified investments to turn Microsoft into a Berkshire Hathaway. This is probably Ballmer’s last stand as a high tech CEO.

It was entirely by coincidence that I interviewed both Jon Shirley and Bill Gates in their last weeks as Microsoft CEO. In Shirley’s case it was his final day and I’ve never seen a guy more eager to get out […]

By |September 19th, 2011|2011|85 Comments

What Microsoft should do

Before this week’s Lockheed Martin network breach story intervened, I wrote a column about the strategic dilemma faced by Microsoft from downward trends in both product pricing and new installations for its flagship Windows and Office products. That’s on top of an overall market transition to mobile where Microsoft does not seem to be playing a leading role. What’s Steve Ballmer to do? I think that to thrive Microsoft has to turn itself into a very different company. Fortunately there are archetypes — other companies that have faced similar pressures yet gone on to reach even great corporate success. I think the time is fast coming for Microsoft to emulate Warren […]

By |May 28th, 2011|2011|109 Comments