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Entrepreneur Bill Gates founded the world's largest software business, Microsoft, with Paul Allen, and subsequently became one of the richest men in the world.
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Bill Gates and his partner Paul Allen built the world's largest software business, Microsoft. He became one of the richest men in the world and a major philanthropist through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As a teenager, Bill Gates became obsessed with computers.
Mary Gates played a big part early on in the success of her son Bill and his upstart company, Microsoft.
Bill and Melinda Gates started the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which helps people and organizations all over the world.
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Over time, the company's stock increased in value and split numerous times. In 1987, Bill Gates became a billionaire when the stock raised to $90.75 a share. Since then, Gates has been at the top, or at least near the top, of Forbes' annual list of the top 400 wealthiest people in America. In 1999, with stock prices at an all time high and the stock splitting eight-fold since its IPO, Gates's wealth briefly topped $101 billion.
Bill Gates never felt totally secure about the status of his company. Always having to look over his shoulder to see where the competition was, he developed a white hot drive and competitive spirit. Gates expected everyone in the company to have the same drive and dedication. One story goes that one of Gates's assistants had come to work early to find someone sleeping under a desk. She considered calling security or the police when she discovered it was Gates.
Bill Gates's intelligence allowed him to be able to see all sides of the software industry—product development and corporate strategy. When analyzing any corporate move, he would develop a profile of all the possible cases and run through them, asking questions about anything that could possibly happen. His confrontational management style became legend as he would challenge employees and their ideas to keep the creative process going. An unprepared presenter would hear, "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" from Gates. But this was as much a test of the rigor of the employee as it was Gates's passion for his company. He was constantly testing the people around him to see if they were really convinced of their ideas.
Outside the company, Bill Gates was gaining a reputation as a ruthless competitor. Several tech companies led by IBM began to develop their own operating system called OS/2 to replace MS-DOS. Rather than give into the pressure, Gates pushed ahead with the Windows software, improving its operation and expanding its uses. In 1989, Microsoft introduced Microsoft Office which bundled office productivity applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel into one system that was compatible with all Microsoft products. The applications were not as easily compatible with OS/2. Microsoft's new version of Windows sold 100,000 copies in just two weeks and OS/2 soon faded away. This left Microsoft with a virtual monopoly on operating systems for PCs. Soon the Federal Trade Commission began to investigate Microsoft for unfair marketing practices.
Microsoft faced a string of Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigations throughout the 1990s. Some related allegations that Microsoft made unfair deals with computer manufactures who installed the Windows operating system on their computers. Other charges involved Microsoft forcing computer manufactures to sell Microsoft's Internet Explorer as a condition for selling the Windows operating system with their computers.
At one point, Microsoft faced a possible break up of its two divisions—operating systems and software development.
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