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Appeared on: Tuesday, August 30, 2005
The Bill Gates Prodigy


1. Page 1

If, on March 13, 1986, someone had come up with the idea of investing 3,000 dollars in a practically unknown software company called Microsoft, nowadays, that person’s investment would sum up to $1,950,000, approximately. It took for Bill Gates’ enterprise 20 years to achieve what was carried out by the United States over a period of 185 years: A couple of years ago the exchangeable value for the Microsoft company had reached 507 billion dollars, whereas the United States national budget managed to exceed the half trillion dollar limit just in 1961. Even if there were a person who would be interested in buying it, he would definitely be in no position of doing so, since all American currency throughout the globe cannot but amount up to just 450.6 billion dollar bills.

Microsoft is the first enterprise in the world whose stock exchange value has exceeded the half trillion-dollar limit. So, Bill Gates could be called as well in one of the G 8 conventions. There are only eight countries in the world whose economies are bigger than the value attributed to his company. Anyway, failing to invite him to such an event won’t be much of a cause for trouble to him. The 43-year old chairman of the company has given a 4.7 billion dollar boost to his personal assets within a year! According to the Washington Post estimations, a 10-hour work schedule per day must have brought in to him 1 million dollars per second a couple of years ago!

After the good news had broken out in one of the anti-monopolistic trials the Microsoft had to stand, its share enjoyed gradual leaps in its price: $5.06 in three days. Its value reached a peak of $99.43 and Gates’ assets followed at 100 billion dollars. That was a figure a lot higher than the total amount consisting of the first 55 American billionaires’ personal as well as real assets, as recorded in the Forbes register in 1989. An American blue collar paid on the base rate would have to work for 8,593,956 years to catch up with the soaring magnitude of his possessions. This period of time constitutes approximately half the history of mankind.


2. Page 2

The ingenious moves performed by the astute businessman Bill Gates have led his company into being the epitome of the era of informatics. The Windows operational system (in other words the heart of the computer) is installed in 95% of the PCs all over the world. It is not the best, but it has been perfectly promoted. From that point on, Gates has included in his portfolio hundreds of companies specializing in all the fields of informatics. He was a bit late to enter the Internet market but with the ready money already stagnating in the cash desks of his company he started buying out companies and today he is the “master” in the field. Of course massive buy-outs and the offensive politics he has been practicing have brought on fears about his monopolizing the whole lot of the economy of informatics. He has been brought to court facing charges for monopolizing practices, a fact that might cost him the breaking up of his company’s activities. Anyway, his practices for the past few years have neither been that virtuous nor consistent with the law. He has fulsomely made use his monopolistic place in the operational systems sector to promote his own software programs trampling over numerous competitors of his.

Yet, despite his legendary wealth, Bill Gates still remains a simple man. The only way he shows off his riches is through charity, especially when subsiding schools and libraries to develop their systems of informatics. He walks around dressed in ordinary attire, he loves bridge and fast food restaurants. If someone visits the McDonalds in Seattle (the location of his company’s headquarters) may have dinner with him (naturally at neighboring tables). Those who have been studying his wealth (now there are lots o them in the Internet, occupying themselves with all the things the informatics tycoon is capable of doing with the help of his mythical riches) have estimated that his money will suffice to buy all the meals consumed at the 24,800 McDonalds fast food restaurants for the next three years. And to extend on that, if the freckle-nosed croesus wished to pose as Scrooge Mc Duck, liquidating his assets into one-dollar bills like the famous Walt Disney duck did and hide all these bank notes in the mattress of his bed, then he would have to have a bed soaring at a 26 km height! If he arrayed his dollars in a one-dollar bill line, the length of his wealth would be enough to walk him all the way to the moon and back, 99 times.


3. Page 3
THE FIRST JUDICIAL VICTORY

Nineteen states along with the Department f Justice of the United States have initiated proceedings against Microsoft on the grounds of the company’s violating a number of clauses involved in the merchant law and especially the anti-monopoly one. Yet, the initial magisterial decision issued by the Supreme Court of the State of Connecticut brought smiles back on the faces of the company executives. The nine members of the jury looked into the transaction between a small-scale local company and Microsoft. After a 13-hour sitting the Microsoft was found guilty for violating the anti-monopoly law, however the fine assessed against it was one dollar!

The Microsoft announced that the ruling issued by the court constituted a profound victory that had to be shared by the software industry as a whole and a defeat to all those who believe that striking any kind of blows against a big, successful company is a fashionable commodity.

The victory gained by the Microsoft became cause for joy in Wall Street too, where investors are looking forward to any development coming from the numerous litigations, which the company has been involved in. The value of its share has risen to $ 5.06 making thus Microsoft the first company whose assets exceed the 500 billion dollar limit.

SUCCESS BRINGS FORTH HATRED

The stunning success achieved by the Microsoft and its main shareholder, Bill Gates, has triggered off envy, animosity and malice. Two hundred ninety-nine hate-sites have sheltered themselves in the Net, shooting against the company and its owner. They are fraught with photos, collages, jokes, videos and stories, which are humorous at times, venomous at others, but exceptionally imaginative most of them.


4. Page 4
The author comments on the article

 Five billion dollars are an amazing figure. Of course, after a point its stock market value is none other than a nominal one. It is something like an honorary distinction awarded by investors to a company that has the ability to produce future wealth. There’s actually no practical value to it. It may be a symbol of power and achievement but that does not prevent it from being a pile of thread marked paper. Only if Mr. Gates (who possesses 13% of the company) would decide, for example, to sell up his property, the value of the Microsoft company share would collapse and the 500 billion dollars would turn out to be…God knows how much. Such an occurrence of course, would sweep along the shares of all the Internet companies, which nowadays are considered to be the driving force lying behind the stock market boost in the United States of America. That would mean serious trouble for the economy of the United States, not to mention the economies of all the countries throughout the world. If, in other words, Gates were to make his intention to “sell up” known to the public, the after-effects of such a statement would affect even the remotest villages in Greece.

Be it either symbolic or not, the stock market value of the Microsoft bears nothing else than a social reward for an organization for everything it has accomplished so far, along with all that is to be achieved by it in the years to come. There’s nothing to blame up to now. Yet, there is an awkward situation at hand if one looks into the history of technology, aiming at all the things Microsoft has contributed to the so called era of informatics; if its products are to be weighed against those produced by its competitors, some of which had to be wiped out under its colossal weight.

With regards to the first aspect, the half trillion-dollar company does not have much to vaunt for. Its contribution to the revolution in technology is practically not worth mentioning. Even the first product, manufactured by the company, the MS-DOS operational system that made Microsoft well-known to the public, had been created by people who were not part of the company. The only thing the shrewd businessman Bill Gates had to do was to sell it.

As for the quality of its products, Microsoft has never been at the top of the list. Many of its competitors had-throughout the short history of the personal computer-and still have better products to show.

Then why is it that Microsoft keeps selling? The apotheosis of marketing can be found in the background of the company along with the rest of the modern enterprises. Bill Gates has never been a guru of informatics; he has always been a sales Almighty.

Therefore, the dark side of the history of the computer lies in the fact that economy does not reward those who handle the best product, but those who are able to sell better even the worst program. In other words, it rewards appearances rather than reality, and that means a lot…

 

By Pashos Mandravelis.

email to P. Mandravelis



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