International Business Festival 2018




Ian Hughes
10 April 2017

Ok, look, we couldn't actually get Bill Gates. (Billionaire business magnates diaries are a bloody nightmare). Instead, we've been doing some research into the man who co-founded the world's largest PC software company and regularly wipes the smile off Mark Zuckerberg's face, by consistently topping the list of the richest people in the world.

We've discovered some surprising, funny and hopefully useful facts in the hope of getting inspired and emulating at least some of Bill Gates' success. The man is a living legend. If he was a country, he'd be the 63rd richest on earth. His bucket list contains only one thing: Not to die. His favourite book? Leonardo da Vinci's Codex, which he owns, at a cost of a cool $30 million…

Billionaire philanthropist, genius intellect, crazy-rich with a passion for justice. Let's face it, if you couldn't be Batman, you'd be Bill Gates. But aside from all that money, Bill's an interesting guy who understands the value of a lot more than mountains of cash. Read our window into the multi-multi- millionaire mind of the true master of Microsoft…



Little Kid and Books

As Spiderman fans are constantly reminded, with great power comes great responsibility. But the young Bill Gates wasn't adverse to using his considerable computer source code powers to his advantage.

At 13 Bill was fascinated by computers and was already something of a whizz on them. But computers were far from the only thing on the young man's mind. His grade school, impressed with Bill's programming prowess, let him loose on the school's computer system.

What did he do with this honour? Speed up admin? Produce automatic reports? Design a more attractive interface? No, He modified code to make sure that he would be placed in classes with a disproportionally high number of ‘interesting girls' and exploited bugs in the operating system to obtain more free computer time. Tut-tut.



Kid boxing

Bill Gates was the middle child in a happy family that loved sports, debate and law. His parents didn't believe in placid games, without a winner, where everyone gets a medal, just for taking part. They preferred healthy competition and were happy encourage their children's competitive nature, in the hope of instilling a strong desire to succeed. In June 1996, the television show ‘Triumph of the Nerds' reported a family visitor as saying:

“It didn't matter whether it was hearts or pickleball or swimming to the dock, there was always a reward for winning and a penalty for losing.”

This competitive streak has clearly stuck with Bill. In 1991 one of his executives recalled that after beating Bill at a game, the next time they met, a month later, Bill had done his homework, studying the game until he had solved it, going on to win or tie every game they played after that. Now that's a competitive spirit.



Despite this competitive nature, Bill still likes to have a laugh and, on occasion, he tries to make other people laugh too. In 2008, he appeared in his first commercial for Microsoft, co-starring alongside ‘Seinfeld' actor Jerry Seinfeld. The 90-second advert saw Bill buying discount shoes with the sitcom star and using a store card, featuring a real life Bill Gates mugshot, taken in 1977, for driving without a license and driving through a red light.

The follow-up ad fared better, pitting Gates and Seinfeld against life in a ‘normal' American family, in an effort to connect with real-life people. They selfishly steal Grandma's place at the table, fend off requests for financial advice and generally act as a disruptive force, while flogging Microsoft's brand. Watch the results below. Acting may not be his thing, but dredging up that mugshot shows Mr Gates is a man who isn't afraid to at least laugh at himself.



Keeping with the theme of brushes with the law, Bill Gates incredible success at Microsoft, led to accusations of violating Antitrust legislation in 1998, specifically the blocking of competitors and monopolisation.

Mr Gates, once a Harvard law student, deflected, dodged and generally riled up prosecutors to such a point, that even the judge stifled a giggle or two. Gates gave deposition testimony that journalists characterised as evasive, arguing with examiner David Bois over the contextual meaning of words such as “complete” “concerned” and “we” and offering obfuscatory answers, along with numerous “I don't recall” responses. In the end, this led to outright laughter in the courtroom. Upon reflection, Bill Gates said:

“Did I fence with Boies?.I plead guilty. Whatever that penalty is should be levied against me: rudeness to Boies in the first degree.”



Bill Gates mastery of the business world is undisputed. But why stop there? Inspired by noted philanthropist, David Rockefeller, Bill decided to give back to the world in a serious way. Through his and his wife's foundation, one of the world's wealthiest charities, Bill and Melinda Gates have the clout, resources, and connections to tackle major global issues that face the world today.

Their philosophy is a simple one that appeals to all of mankind: that all lives have equal value. The foundation works to reduce inequality by ensuring that more young people survive and thrive, empowering the poorest people to transform their lives, combat deadly infectious diseases and to inspire other people to take action to change the world also.

You might not be personally affected by the issues above but the work of the Bill & Melinda Gates could still save all of our lives. Last week the foundation joined a $460 million dollar coalition to provide swift vaccines against known infectious diseases that could be deployed quickly to contain outbreaks before they become global health emergencies.

Bill's donations are so sizable, at times they have toppled his position as the world's richest man. (A title he reportedly dislikes, due to the intense media attention it brings him).

Putting his mouth, where his money is, Bill drank water which was produced from human faeces, to raise awareness of the topic of global sanitation issues. In early 2015, he even appeared with Jimmy Fallon, on America's ‘The Tonight Show' and challenged Jimmy to see if he could tell the difference between this reclaimed water and bottled water. Watch the results below.


Don't get us wrong, Bill Gates is a man who deservedly enjoys his wealth. (His home, Xanadu 2.0 in Seattle has a market value of $120.5 million) But he isn't your typical billionaire, riding out his days behind mansion walls, without a care in the world. His weeks are planned for him, similar to the US President's schedule, on a minute-by-minute basis. He's still significantly involved in Microsoft and he's sensibly decided to limit the inheritance of his children to ‘just' $10m each (a fraction of his estimated $81.1 billion net worth) as "leaving kids massive amounts of money is no favour to them.”

It's sometimes fun to picture the life of the ultra-rich, sipping champagne poolside, hopping on private jets, with gold taps, or diving into oceans of cash, a la Scrooge McDuck and revelling in the power their vast fortune brings them. It's a great visual, but Bill Gates is a bit different. He gave the world personal computers and he's working hard, through his foundation, to become a true hero of our times. Money matters but Bill Gates will likely be remembered for more than computers or vast wealth, he'll be remembered as a man who made a real difference in the world.


Read More about our Festival

Related stories


    01 March 2017 Ian Hughes

    30 March 2017 By Nathan Alemany, Head of Marketing, 2018 International Business Festival


Festival Partners