Bill Gates, in other people's words

A sampling of comments about the Microsoft co-founder — some friendly, some not so much

Not surprisingly, Bill Gates has been the subject of a lot of comments over the years from rival executives, comedians and other people. With his official retirement from Microsoft Corp. drawing near, here is a sampling of previous quotes about Gates — some positive, some not so positive (see more coverage on our "Bill Gates Moves On" page). "Bill goes out and methodically searches for good ideas to steal. That's perfectly rational behavior. That's made him very successful. But then, one by one, Bill starts to claim credit for the stolen ideas. He actually starts believing that they really were his ideas in the first place.... He can't bear to see himself as Rockefeller; he sees himself as Edison."

— Oracle Corp. CEO Larry Ellison, as quoted in the book Softwar: An Intimate Portrait of Larry Ellison and Oracle, written by Matthew Symonds with added comments by Ellison himself.

"Bill built the first software company. That was huge."

— Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs, during a joint appearance with Gates at The Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital conference last year.

"There are three monopolies in high tech — Cisco, Intel and Microsoft — and only one has an antitrust problem. [Gates and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer] are like huge teenage boys who don't know how big they've gotten, and they keep knocking things over."

Bob Metcalfe, Ethernet creator and founder of 3Com Corp., as quoted by The Washington Post in a story published in 2000.

"The moment you subjugate yourself to Bill, it can get a little dangerous.... He can be an alpha male in collaborative situations."

Vern Raburn, an early Microsoft executive who was in charge of the company's consumer products unit, from the same Post story.

"[IT is] a business I don't know anything about, but I admire Bill Gates enormously. I know him individually, and I think he's incredible in business."

— Investor Warren Buffett, in a 1994 lecture at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

"No matter how much Bill Gates may claim otherwise, he missed the Internet, like a barreling freight train that he didn't hear or see coming."

— Netscape Communications Corp. co-founder Jim Clark, in an undated comment that's included in the book i-Quote: Brilliance and Banter from the Internet Age, edited by David L. Green.

"[Bill Gates] made an unbelievable contribution.... It's hard to conceive what this industry would look like today if Microsoft hadn't standardized the OS.... I think the industry would be much smaller if that hadn't have happened."

— Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen during a keynote session at the Web 2.0 Expo in April.

"Gates takes my work and makes it his own through divisive measures, at best. He made his 'cash cow,' MS-DOS, from CP/M."

— Late operating system pioneer Gary Kildall, in notes for an unpublished memoir titled Computer Connections, according to the book They Made America, by Harold Evans with Gail Buckland and David Lefer.

"Probably the most dangerous and powerful industrialist of our age."

Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems Inc.'s chairman and former CEO, in a widely reported comment that one source dates to a 1998 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

"Is it the tradition here to give Bill the finger whenever you go through these doors?"

— Free software movement leader Richard Stallman, to a student outside Stanford University's Bill Gates Building, as reported by in 1998.

"Bill Gates is a very rich man today... and do you want to know why? The answer is one word: versions.

— Humorist Dave Barry, in his book Dave Barry in Cyberspace.

"Bill Gates is a monocle and a Persian cat away from being the villain in a James Bond movie."

— Comedian Dennis Miller, in his book I Rant, Therefore I Am.

See more coverage: Bill Gates Moves On.

Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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