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Sunday, November 28, 1999

DEFENDER OF THE GATES

I'M certainly not a defender of Bill Gates, but I bumped into a couple of people who are, at least slightly. On the way back from my girlfriend's parents' house for Thanksgiving, I was finishing up the book The Plot To Get Bill Gates. A woman I had never met before noticed the title of the book and started talking to me. She explained that she had heard Gates' name come up in conversation quite a bit lately and realized that she knew little or nothing about the guy. She went on to ask if I could tell her what I know about him.

Now, the first thing I did was issue her a disclaimer. I am the LAST person you are going to get a POSITIVELY slanted bio on Bill Gates from. She seemed to understand, so I began. Firstly, Bill Gates is NOT about money--you might think that a man who is worth around $92 billion would be all about getting more money--he isn't. It's all about winning and crushing his opponents. If you are direct competition, he either buys your company or crushes you into oblivion or sometimes both. Like how he dealt with Netscape. Now, Gates has said that he and Microsoft were an innovators. I beg to differ. In last week's Bitch Page (HERE!), I talked about how Gates had appropriated an idea from a competitor. Well, this is a better example. Netscape's co-founder is a guy named Marc Andreesen. When he was in college, he created a browser for the Web. He did so taking advantage of his college's facilities and as a result, they owned the browser he had created. When Andreesen had decided to go into business selling that browser, he couldn't unless he paid his college for the rights. He didn't, he figured it would be easier to simply write himself a new browser. Which he did do. This was the basis for the original Netscape browser. Now, Microsloth comes along and says "Hey! We want in on the internet, but we've got no browser!"

What do they do? THEY buy up the original source code from Andreesen's college and use it for the basis of Microsoft's browser. Innovation? (Or not.) But that wasn't all Gates did--he and his company then went on to give their browser away free! Now, you may think--hey that's only GOOD for the consumer, why should that be wrong?

It's wrong because of this: Microsoft can afford to give away a browser for free--it has LOADS of money from selling operating systems. However, the company that creates the competing software can not afford to give away their browser for free because they don't have some cash cow that will cover their financial butts. Gates deliberately had his company do something that would obviously cripple the competition. What happened? Netscape's sales went way down, forcing them to give away their browser for free as well. The company lost billions of dollars and barely hangs on even today.

Perhaps you're thinking, so what? The average consumer now has a choice--two browsers for free, that's great! Well, it isn't--Netscape almost vanished from the browser landscape--luckily they thought fast and came up with their successful portal (a place on the web to get all your news, web searches, etc, in one place) and they were able to save themselves from the brink. Gates and Microsoft almost succeeded in removing the competition completely and that would have removed a choice from the consumer. NOT good. It's bad enough we only have two browsers to choose from (and a couple more if we want to pay). So basically, Bill Gates is a shark who's only intent is to devour the competition and thusly make more money. He gives away next to NONE of his money to charity and CONTINUES to deliver crappy software to the public with more bugs in it than an ant farm.

So, as I'm explaining the whole thing to this woman on the plane, another passenger interrupts explaining that Bill Gates HAS to give a certain amount (he theorized 5%) of his total income every year to charity. Then, another Defender of The Gates jumped in adding that just recently Gates had established a scholarship. To this I say: FIVE PERCENT??? A SCHOLARSHIP?? CURE CANCER MORON!!! YOU'RE WORTH $92 BILLION!!! That's 92,000 MILLION DOLLARS!!!! HELLO!!! BILL GATES COULD DONATE HALF OF HIS TOTAL WORTH AND STILL BE ONE OF THE RICHEST MEN ON EARTH!!! Don't believe me? Go HERE and see for yourself.

Scholarship, my ass...

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