Capital: € 106.8 billion
Age: 64
Born: 10/28/1955
Country of origin: USA
Source of wealth: Entrepreneurs
Last updated: 2022


Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is considered one of the leading minds that drove the digital revolution. He still holds 500 million shares of the technology giant, which made him the richest man in the world until 2017. He retired from day-to-day business in 2008 and is now increasingly devoting himself to charitable activities.

Early life

William Henry Gates, the third, saw the light of day in Seattle and found himself there as a middle child in a fairly wealthy family. Both father William (lawyer) and his mother Mary (teacher) were academics and followed an extremely progressive upbringing method for that era. In this way, they handed over autonomous rights to their offspring at an early age and encouraged creative thinking. At the age of 13, Bill first led this to the renowned private school “Lakeside”, which followed similar pedagogical principles. With long-time companions, he stayed here for long stretches of the day in the computer room and started his entrepreneurship by designing a system for collecting traffic data and selling it for $ 20,000. After graduating from high school in 1973, she moved to Havard. Here the first foundations for the operating system were created, which was later used under the name “Microsoft BASIC”.


The college somehow stood in the way of the project: Gates dropped out of college in 1975 in order to devote all day to his garage company, which at the time had 16 employees. The first sales were achieved with the programming language BASIC 2.0 for the Altair 8800. However, the deal with client MITS was capped at $ 180,000. The development was slow until 1980. The breakthrough finally came thanks to the exclusive cooperation with IBM, whose devices were operated exclusively with MS-DOS from then on. Gates joined Microsoft’s supervisory board in 1983, but remained its chief developer at the same time and formed the group into a global brand. In 1986 the company went public with a market capitalization of $ 60 million. Gates took over as CEO at the age of only 30. A year later, the share price had risen massively, making Bill the youngest billionaire of all time. After numerous mergers and innovative products, his (and thus also Microsoft’s) star began to decline towards the end of the millennium. From 2000 onwards, he increasingly withdrew from day-to-day business, moved back to the supervisory board and finally ended his active career in summer 2008.

Career highlights

In retrospect, the deal with IBM already mentioned represents Bill’s greatest success: up to this point, numerous software start-ups had operated in the United States. However, all of them were only suppliers to the hardware manufacturers and, like Microsoft, achieved very poor sales. That changed abruptly when Gates IBM did not sell the patent rights to MS-DOS, but only licenses for it. In addition, IBM had been tied to Microsoft products for years. The PC achieved unprecedented sales figures and Microsoft received commissions for every device sold. By 1995, Gates had expanded his company’s global market share to over 90 percent. This demonstrated his entrepreneurial skills by recognizing and buying future-proof products early on. This affects, among other things, the office software “Office” and the further development of the graphical user interface, which was designed by competitor Apple in 1983. In response to the civilian use of the Internet, the launch of Windows 95 was brought forward, which meant the next boost for Microsoft and Gates. Expressed in numbers: In 1994 Bill took the lead in the Forbes magazine listing and was subsequently able to achieve it 14 more times. The development of Microsoft’s stock market values is even more impressive: at the launch of Windows 95, the share was quoted at around $ 2.5. Until the crash of the “New Economy” in 2000, it rose to $ 50 and is now trading at $ 150. The technology giant is one of the few companies worth over a trillion dollars.

Famous quotes

“I don’t have any money. I hold Microsoft shares. ”

“The most dissatisfied customers are our largest external source for quality control.”

“Headlines usually take up negative developments. So the news doesn’t represent the whole of reality because improvements span long periods of time and are not worth the headline. ”

“Innovation is developing at an increasingly terrifying pace.”

“US immigration legislation is extremely bad. It is one of the greatest injustices committed on behalf of the US government. ”

Success tips

“If I had formulated a clear career goal, I would have exceeded it years ago. As a successful entrepreneur, however, you have to be able to react flexibly to market needs. ”

“Even if your product is not the best, it must always be presented as if it were.”

“People overestimate the changes that will happen in the next 2 years and underestimate the development of the next decade. Don’t let that put you off your goals. ”

“Success is more fun than failure. But ultimately it is the failures from which you learn the most and which make exponential growth possible. ”


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