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
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.
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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.
THE FIRST JUDICIAL VICTORY
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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.
The author comments on the article
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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