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Daily Debrief: Gates says good-byeCNET News.com's Kara Tsuboi talks with senior writer Ina Fried about Bill Gates' imminent departure from Microsoft. He's technically leaving the company as a full-time employee, but Fried explains why Gates will still be involved with pet projects like...
^B00:00:00 [ Music ] >> Welcome to the Daily Debrief. I'm Kara Tsuboi, CNET News.com. Ina Fried, senior writer for News.com is here to discuss Bill Gate's departure from Microsoft. Thanks for joining us, Ina. >> Thanks, Kara. >> And you just wrapped up a good one-on-one interview with Bill Gates last week up in Renton, Washington. Great interview. What was the most interesting comment that you got out of that interview? >> There were a couple of really interesting tidbits. One was he told the story of how Microsoft got invited to the launch of the PC by IBM, and then uninvited. Another one where they had talks with Lotus about some sort of business combination. But I thought the most interesting thing was I asked Bill what his 21-year old self would think if they saw Microsoft today. And he said two things that were really interesting. One, that the 21-year old Gates would be disappointed to learn that Bill's not still reading every line of code. >> Uh huh. >> And that he'd also be overwhelmed by the offices that they have. >> And the excess that they have there. >> You know, and it's funny because Microsoft, for all its wealth, is still thought of as a company that is pretty thrifty with a dollar. So clearly things have changed from when he was a 21-year old. But still, kind of has a reputation of being a little tight with the dollar. >> Now Gates is leaving Microsoft full-time to focus more energies on the philanthropic involvements he has. But how much is really going to be leaving Microsoft. I imagine he's still gonna have a hand in a lot of their products, a lot of their initiatives. Which ones in particular? >> Well, in some ways, he's leaving a lot, and in some ways only a little. He will still be chairman of the board, so he'll still be the companies biggest shareholder, you know, a key voice in its overall big plans. He'll be a part-time employee. He'll only be working on a few specific projects. I know he's very interested in tablet computing. >> Mm-hmm. >> He's the biggest champion for it. It hasn't yet been a commercial success. So I think you're gonna see him involved in two areas. One are the types of things like "Search," where Microsoft really wants him involved, and they need all the help they can get. And the other are some of his pet projects, like a new file system. He's been pushing for that for years, and again, the tablet. Things that he really believes in that have yet to catch on. I think you'll see him continue to try and make them into reality. >> As long as Microsoft has been a household name, it's pretty much been associated with Bill Gates. What is the feeling you get from other Microsoft employees about their figurehead leaving? What is the state of Microsoft gonna be after he is running the ship? >> You know, they make the point that, you know, it really hasn't been Bill and Steve for a long time. That, you know, a company that big has to be run by lots of people. And I think that's certainly true. I think what Microsoft is definitely losing, in addition to Bill's business and engineering talent is, also, the face that everyone can relate to. >> Absolutely. >> You know, even Steve Ballmer, who's very well known in tech circles, when you get outside of technology isn't as well known. I mean Bill Gates is a household name, and when he speaks, people cover it just because it's Bill Gates speaking. And I think Microsoft may find some of its product launches, some of its other things become tougher draws without having Gates there. >> And speaking of when Bill Gates speaks, we all listen; you've had several - maybe a dozen or so one-on-one interviews with him. How would you say his tone has changed over the years, especially since he announced his retirement? Do you detect, like, any sort of nostalgia to him, or any sort of sadness about his departure? >> Well, in the last couple of interviews, he has been more willing to talk about the early days and reminisce a little bit, but I think what I - what struck me was in talking with all kinds of different industry leaders for a package of stories was just how his optimism and passion have continued. And how remarkably similar talking to him today is from talking to him a while ago. You know, some people, when they get wealthy or they have lots of power, it changes who they are. You know, Bill's kind of Bill. I mean he's still the engineer. He's still got his social quirks. And he still is optimistic and passionate as when he was much younger. I think it's broadened - his field has broadened from just software to global issues, like health and education. But he still has that same drive. >> Right. And it's that optimism and passion that he's now transferring over to his philanthropic work in Africa. Do you want to describe briefly what he's going to be doing full time now? >> Sure. So his full-time gig is going to be with the foundation. He's not gonna be running the foundation. Jeff Rakes, another former Microsoft person, is coming over to be CEO. You know, he's gonna work on what are the big problems? The foundation has taken on an interesting task, which is to look at what are society's big problems that can't be solved through existing means. So what types of problems go beyond the free market and go beyond government? So things like getting vaccines out there. We were talking about that in the interview. And he was talking about how one of the big challenges is there's this cold chain. Basically, vaccines have to stay cold throughout their entire process, many vaccines. And that's a real challenge where you have regions where power is a challenge. >> Sure. >> Keeping them cold. And it turns out that the answer is probably some sort of super thermos. So I think you're gonna see Bill working to bring people together that aren't necessarily talking. I think you're gonna see him looking for what are the areas where there really is a need for new technology -- and not necessarily just software, but other types of new technology. I think that's where we'll see him spending a lot of his time. >> Thank you very much, Ina, for your time. I'm Kara Tsuboi with Ina Fried, CNET News.com. We'll see you next time on the Daily Debrief. ^M00:05:45 [ Music ]