18 Jun 2008

Bill Gates: How a Geek Changed the World

Bill Gates' legacy

Bill Gates' legacy

The Money Programme, TX 20 June 2008.

Bill Gates’ company, Microsoft, has changed the world we live in. Although his name is widely recognised, very little is known about the man behind the industry – until now. The Money Programme, an Open University and BBC co-production, managed to secure a rare interview with the man himself after two years of negotiation.

In a special one-hour edition, presenter Fiona Bruce gains exclusive access to Bill Gates as he prepares to step down from his full-time job this month. The founder of Microsoft, a Harvard dropout, has been described as “super smart” and was the world’s richest man 13 years in a row. But he is also known for being stubborn and confrontational, and his ruthless business leadership contributed to Microsoft being sued by the US Government and the European Commission.

All this is well documented, but how many people know that he reads two books a day while on holiday to expand his ever increasing knowledge? Fiona presents the definitive profile of the controversial figure as he embarks on his latest challenge; giving away the billions he's amassed through his charitable foundation.

Colin Gray, professor of enterprise development at the OU Business School, described Bill Gates as probably the world’s most prominent entrepreneur. He said: “He is clearly driven not just by a desire to beat competitors, but more by a love of doing something new, with new technologies, in a new industry.”

His acquaintances say Bill needs a goal, and that he will run the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation the same way he’s run Microsoft - by making an impact and doing things differently.

Fiona examines the fortunes of Microsoft as it faces up to competition from internet-based companies and asks a who's who of friends, colleagues and rivals what the future holds for the company in a post-Gates world.

Some say his next goal is to strengthen his legacy through philanthropy; others think he’ll mostly be remembered for his work in computing. What do you think?

The Money Programme, 20 June, 7-8pm on BBC TWO.

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