Fast Company

WWBGD- What Would Bill Gates Do?

In the past my articles have been centered around technology, products and applications used within the business world. This weeks entry is a bit different. My friend and business partner at Odyssey Consulting Group, Daniel Egan has a once in a lifetime opportunity this week. To be one of fifteen people who get to have lunch with Bill Gates.

He found out last week and called me directly. After the initial excitement died down, I posed a simple yet poignant question to him. "You have this amazing opportunity to meet a true pioneer in the technology and computer industry, a world class humanitarian, and the third richest man in the world. What question will you ask him?"

He stopped dead in his tracks and realized he had no idea.

So, my Fast Company readers, if faced with the same opportunity, what question would you ask Mr.Gates? Would it be about a Microsoft product? His long battles with Apple, Intel and the EU? The future of Windows, Cloud Computing and WiMax? His work with One.org, RED, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation? Perhaps what it's like to have Bono and Al Gore as friends? Maybe ask why he drives a Saturn when he could own any car on the planet? What would you ask?

Post your questions below. The best question will get asked and your answer will be posted below. I am very serious. I will post a photo of Daniel and Bill next week from their lunch.

I look forward to your ideas and suggestions.

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36 Comments

  • Erika Schneider

    Allen Knoll writes:

    I believe that I would ask him for 10 people who could work on "Community Transportations System's Packages" that would ultimately help populations around the world. As the book "Bowling Alone" suggests we need to get out of our universally imposed shells and be a community ready to shovel our neighbor out of the snow for a cup of coffee and some chatting.

  • Erika Schneider

    This question is from Robert Mochwart:

    Since Bill has be called one of the top 5 most "feared persons on Wall Street" per an Investopedia article, as a result of amassing a huge war chest, what does Bill see as being the ideal investments over the course of the next 1, 3 5 and 10 years? Micorsoft could be an investment bank unto itself - how will they spend the money other than over paying for Yahoo at anything over $30/share

  • Christopher Cordry

    Here are a few for you Stephen…

    1. What do you see as the biggest threat to the advancement of technology?

    It seems like there are so many these days:

    * Dependence on infrastructure which can’t scale as fast as users need/want
    * Environmental/economic shift issues
    * Lawmakers who swing ham fists
    * Coexisting with industries that respond to technology as a threat rather than an opportunity.

    2. What new technology would you like to see developed in your life time?

    3. Has Microsoft R&D done any work in the area of “Nueral” interfacing?

    I think most people would like to see the keyboard and mouse go away, someday I think we look back on them and they will look archaic just as the IBM puch card does today!

    Other companies such as OCZ have allready demo’d working interfaces, so I know it is possible with today’s tech, Is MS going to be a segment leader in this new field?

    4. Are there any other areas you see coming to life in the near future “Interface” wise such as “Eye Tracking” software for the handicapped, that are in the labs now (Either at MS or it’s partners) that are going to be ground breaking or earth shattering?

    I know you don’t develop the hardware end, but someone has to make the bridge between hardware and humans!

    5. Boxers of Briefs?

  • Michelle Riggen-Ransom

    How can more of the brilliant minds who are working to advance technology be encouraged to use their smarts to solve social issues as well?

  • Paul Griffith

    What Question would I ASK BILL GATES ?

    I'd say, Bill, how do you think history will treat you ?

  • Paul Griffith

    What Question would I ASK BILL GATES ?

    I'd say, Bill, how do you think history will treast you ?

  • Matthew Dollinger

    Name 10 companies that inspire you and what you admire about their brands.

    And

    I don't feel that Microsoft is a "lovemark" do you? What can you do to move from commodity to consumer with this?

  • Noble Acuff

    What do you think will be the most important technology trends in the next 10 years and how will they affect the current business landscape? How would today's entrepreneurs use this knowledge to their advantage to start companies?

  • Joshua Letourneau

    MS continues to invest offshore, in the way of "Microsoft Universities" . . . in an effort to create talent pools willing to either work for lower labor costs or to bring that newly developed talent here on H1-b visa status. At the same time, MS continues to claim a "lack of talent" here in the U.S.

    As MS lobbies for more H1-b visa permits claiming a lack of U.S. talent, the company continues to invest in lower cost economies instead of here. As such, there appears to be a vested interest in not further developing talent pools in the U.S. (as the cost of labor is higher).

    Do you see this as a contradiction and what are your thoughts on this subject that affects so many Americans?

  • Tim Tymchyshyn

    wow all of the standard questions, how about something different

    So Bill, about you hiring me now what are my serious chances of working up the ladder and taking your place?

  • Josh VonFeldt

    How do you feel about the resurgence of Apple Computers? Do you feel that its a threat to windows, or do you see it as healthy competition?

  • Rachel King

    You and your wife's foundation have done a great deal of work for America's schools. Are you planning to expand your global humanitarian efforts to include similar education programs? Or are there other goals your foundation has to accomplish first?