Bill Gates

Technologist, business leader, and philanthropist.


Ranked #7 in 2009.

Previous positions:

#2 (2007), #2 (2005), #20 (2003), #9 (2001).


Began programming with Paul Allen in 1968, aged 13.


Teamed up with Roger Federer in 2017 for a charity tennis Match for Africa.


Gates and co-founder Paul Allen began Microsoft in 1975 with a vision of “a computer on every desktop and in every home.” Gates’ 1995 book The Road Ahead, co-authored with Microsoft executive Nathan Myhrvold and journalist Peter Rinearson, summarized the implications of the personal computing revolution, and described a future profoundly changed by the arrival of a global information superhighway. In Business at the Speed of Thought, published in 1999, Gates discusses how business and technology are integrated, and shows how digital infrastructures and information networks can help to get an edge on the competition. 


Born in Seattle in 1955, Gates started using computers at school in 1967. After two years at Harvard studying maths and graduate-level computer sciences, he left to form a software company Microsoft with fellow student, Paul Allen. Approached by IBM in 1980 concerning software for its upcoming personal computer, the IBM PC, Microsoft soon rocketed from small business to leading global software company. In 2000, Gates moved out of the CEO role to become chief software architect and established the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, with Melinda Gates. In 2006, Gates transitioned out of Microsoft to dedicate more time to philanthropy. In 2020 he left his board positions at Microsoft and Berkshire Hathaway to focus on philanthropic endeavours such as climate change, global health and development, and education.


The Road Ahead (with Nathan Myhrvold and Peter Rinearson, 1995); Business at the Speed of Thought (Warner Books, 1999); How to Avoid a Climate Disaster (Allen Lane, 2021); How to Prevent the Next Pandemic (Penguin, upcoming 2023).


Media picks


“You could tell three things about Bill Gates pretty quickly. He was really smart. He was really competitive … and he was really, really persistent.”

Paul Allen

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