On Monday Bill Gates will start his last week as a full time employee at Microsoft, he will stay strongly tied to the company as technical advisor and chairman. A decision taken more than 2 years ago allowing a well planned transition. Therefore direct short-term impact on Microsoft will be small to non existent.
It’s going to be weird for a while, Microsoft without it’s founder, the visionary speeches at events, the sometimes wild ideas of wich some worked out and some didn’t. He personally triggered the democratization of the Personal Computer with his strong believe in "Putting a PC in every home and on every desk". The fact this vision has largely been realized is not Mr. Gates sole achievement, but he was the father of the idea. An idea that fuelled an IT industry that’s now worth hundreds of billions a year. He expanded that later into what is still the current mission: "make great software that helps people and businesses realize their potential". And all that is super exiting, but at the end it’s just creating software based solutions, it’s not solving world problems. Of course I admire the man for what he has done and achieved during the last 30 years, but I admire him even more for what he’s going to do in the next 30.
His transition to the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation will be the start of his second career. The foundation is not a small venture anymore and has roughly 500 employees headquartered in Seattle, and exists since 1994. And to be honest I expect the impact to accelerate over the next couple of years. When BillG sets his mind on something there is a pretty good chance it will work out. Add 40 billion $ to that and you have a pretty strong muscle to get things done. And that’s not all, his wife Melissa is the typical "strong woman behind the man", his father has been with the foundation since the start, and has many high placed contacts, and more recently the foundation announced that Jeff Raikes (ex-Microsoft VP) will assume the role of next CEO after the summer. I can imagine that there are more Seattle Microsofties with a big hart looking for a job with their old bosses when they expand further.