Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates appeared on Bloomberg Television today to discuss his philanthropic work. While he was there the question of whether he would consider returning to run Microsoft full-time was raised. Gates has said previously that his future remains with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but many people -- including our own Robert Cringely -- would like to see him emulate Steve Jobs and return to once again helm the company he co-founded.
Given how the search for a new CEO is dragging on, and Ford’s Alan Mulally, the most fancied candidate by far, ruled himself out recently, it seemed a possibility that Gates might step in at least temporarily, but judging from his answers that doesn’t appear to be the case.
Responding to Bloomberg TV anchor Betty Liu's question of how involved he is on a day-to-day basis with Microsoft, Bill Gates said: "Well, I'm on the board, and the board's doing some important work right now. The foundation is the biggest part of my time, but then I put part-time work in to help as a board member". On whether he would go back to Microsoft full-time, Gates made his position clear, saying, "Well my full-time work will be the foundation for the rest of my life. My wife Melinda and I are enjoying that. I get to do it in depth. So I'm not going to change, although I'll help out part-time".
When pressed about the search for a new CEO, Gates said, "The board's working on that. There's nothing new to say. But it's a good board". Asked whether the board feels urgency, he said, "Yeah. I think you'd always feel that way. Then again, you want to pick the best person. So they'll move at the right pace".
Betty Liu also asked him about the state of the technology industry now, to which Gates replied, "Well the rate of innovation is faster than ever. Things like understanding speech and vision, taking large amounts of data and understanding that, big, high-resolution screens that'll be on your walls in the office at home. So we're really in a fantastic period where finding information, understanding information is going to get a lot better. And that will lead to productivity. We can simulate things so that new product design and innovation can go faster. We see it in biology, even understanding complex systems and what drugs should be tried out. So I'm a great believer that whether it's helping the poorest or just helping the global economy, technology can solve a lot -- a lot -- of problems".
You can watch the interview with Bill Gates and Bloomberg LP founder Mike Bloomberg below.