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House of William Henry Gates III

Microsoft’s chief visionary moving further away from day-to-day corporate work. For the first time did not offer a strategy outlook at this year’s financial analyst meeting. Instead, prefers to dive into innovative projects, foster collaboration among Microsoft’s many divisions. Microsoft aims to be omnipotent, selling software for PCs, servers, cell phones, television set-top boxes, gaming consoles, the Web. Fifteen product launches slated for the next year and a half, including new version of Windows, called Vista, and gaming console Xbox 360.

Gates


At the ripe (tech sector) age of 30, Gates’ company impressively beats rivals in profit margins, market capitalization and R&D budget, but its sales growth is slowing to a (recently) single-digit percentage pace. Like elder statesman of computing, IBM, has been investing heavily in its own stock ($8 billion worth so far). Diversifies methodically, selling 20 million shares every quarter, reinvesting through Cascade Investment. Big stakes in Canadian National Railway, Republic Services, Berkshire Hathaway. Philanthropy, via $29 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aimed at fighting infectious disease (hepatitis B, AIDS, malaria) and improving high schools.
Net Worth: $51.0 billion