The highlight of my dead-tree reading this weekend was Time magazine's cover story on Bill Gates. Between bites of Indian food and visits to Gates's $40 million Xanadu on Lake Washington, Walter Isaacson, Time's managing editor and occasional writer, gets about as close to The Bill as Bill will let him get.
Gates's competitive streak is infamous, but Isaacson captures Mr. B in full riot gear during a meeting with members of Microsoft's WebDVD team. During the meeting, Gates is especially preoccupied with one competitor, Navio, and dispatches his team to gather intelligence about the company. "You have to pick someone in your group," Gates tells senior veep Craig Mundie, "whose task it is to track Navio full-time. They're the ones I worry about. Sega is an investor. They may be willing to feed us info."
Is Gates suggesting that Sega betray its Navio partner and Microsoft's arch-nemesis, Netscape? It sure sounds like he wants the company to funnel confidential business plans to Redmond. I can practically hear Netscape's lawyers scribbling quotes and page numbers in their diaries.
I didn't spend my entire weekend reading Time Warner's processed pulp. I also browsed Time Warner Web sites, including the fledgling CityWeb site operated by Warner Bros. Online. Tucked away in a secret directory on CityWeb, I found a bizarre graffitied movie poster for the Michael Jordan vehicle, Space Jam. The graphic for Space Jam 2: Gosala's Revenge is obviously a phony. Look closely at the image and you'll see the number of the beast etched into Jordan's bald pate. Is this anyway to treat a movie star?
When he's not sticking his tongue out and slamming dunks, Jordan plays golf. When I'm not doing my job--eavesdropping on people--I bowl. I've heard that the yahoos fromYahoo also bowl when they're diligently scouring the Web. Apparently, the company has chipped in some of its IPO money to subsidize bowling shirts, though it may have stopped short of buying balls for its employees. I wonder if there's an intramural search engine league in Silicon Valley?
"Safety first" is my motto; that's why I avoid contact sports. IBM apparently values safety, too. My inspectors tell me that Big Blue is coming out with a firewall for NT 4.0 to complement the Unix flavor of the product. Are firewalls good for keeping roaches out of my house? Send me bug prevention techniques and your rumors.