Bill Gates turned a childhood fascination with computer code into a Microsoft software empire that changed culture around the world. Gates, 52, steps down officially today from the company he and childhood friend Paul Allen started in a garage in 1975.
Bill Gates, who built Microsoft msft into the most powerful company in the world and in the process became the world’s richest person, announced today that he is stepping down as chief executive officer to concentrate on software strategy.
Gates, 44, said he will remain as chairman of Redmond, Wash., Microsoft, while also taking the title of chief software architect. He said his new role “will allow me to spend almost 100% of my time on new software technologies. It’s an exciting evolution for me and a very good transition for the company.
He eases into retirement ranked third richest person in the world behind US investor Warren Buffet and Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim. Although he jokes publicly that he will be at a loss to fill days that for decades were devoted to Microsoft, Gates will have plenty to occupy him running the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The foundation, funded by Gates and generous backing from Buffet, has a mandate to fight disease, reduce poverty, and improve education.
Mr Gates said he planned to dedicate his time to fashioning and promoting the “next generation” of Microsoft’s flagship product, the Windows 2000 operating system.
He said he particularly wants to develop software services that will be hosted on the internet and made part of future versions of Windows.
In the move, Gates — who still owns four percent of the company — would remain a first-among-equals director, but he would shed the myriad of duties of running the board to Thompson.
When Gates stepped down as CEO, he said he would stay on as “chief software architect.” He gave up day-to-day responsibilities at Microsoft in June 2008 to work on his charitable ventures.
One possible reason behind his decision to leave his job as CEO: Microsoft faced increased antitrust scrutiny, which undoubtedly made the job less fun than before.
Though Gates has regularly stated that he’d prefer to spend more of his time working on philanthropic projects than Microsoft, Nadella is said to have requested Gates’ assistance while stepping into his new role. Gates says that Nadella has the right background to lead Microsoft forward, explaining that Microsoft has large opportunities ahead of it in mobile and cloud computing — the latter an area that Nadella has plenty of experience in. “The opportunity for Microsoft is greater than ever before,” Gates says.