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Bill Gates thinks he is “very nice” – compared to Musk and Jobs

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Bill Gates thinks he is “very nice” – compared to Musk and Jobs

Microsoft-Gründer Bill Gates und Tesla-Chef Elon Musk.

Pascal Le Segretain, Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Bill Gates mentioned Elon Musk and Steve Jobs during a conversation on Thursday.

The Microsoft founder said he considers himself “very nice” compared to his two colleagues in the tech industry.

However, Gates acknowledged that a certain level of intensity is required in innovative areas.

This is a machine translation of an article from our US colleagues at Business Insider. It was automatically translated and checked by a real editor.

Bill Gates said he considers himself a more relaxed boss than many of his tech colleagues at the top. The Microsoft founder mentioned the names of Elon Musk and Steve Jobs during a conversation Thursday after receiving the Peter G. Peterson Leadership Excellence Award from the Economic Club of New York.

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In the conversation, the moderator asked Gates about the lessons he learned in establishing a culture of innovation during his time at the helm of Microsoft. The billionaire, who founded the technology company in 1975 with his childhood friend Paul Allen, said leaders like himself need to think about how “tough” they should be when running innovative companies. “Everyone is different. Elon is putting a lot of pressure, maybe too much,” said Gates, alluding to Musk, “Steve Jobs has been putting a lot of pressure, maybe too much.”

“I consider myself very nice compared to these guys,” he added with a laugh. Steve Jobs founded Apple with Steve Wozniak in 1976, while Musk is the founder of SpaceX and the Boring Company and co-founder of OpenAI and Neuralink. Gates has a checkered history with both men. He and Jobs had a decades-long love-hate relationship, switching from allies to rivals and back again several times. Their mutually competitive spirit is often credited with why both Microsoft and Apple have produced significant innovations over the years.

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Apple founder Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had a love-hate relationship for a long time. Beck Diefenbach/Reuters; Mike Cohen/Getty Images for The New York Times

After Jobs’ death in 2011, Gates said he respected the Apple founder and was grateful for her competition. The philanthropist’s relationship with Elon Musk has been even more turbulent in recent years. The two men have publicly attacked each other and often have different opinions on everything from space travel to climate change. Gates told Musk’s biographer Walter Isaacson that the Tesla CEO was “super mean” to him in 2022.

“When he heard I had shorted the stock, he was super mean to me. But he’s super mean to so many people, so you can’t take it too personally,” Bill Gates told Isaacson. However, in Thursday’s discussion, Gates acknowledged that a “certain level of intensity” is required to succeed as an innovative leader.

“In my twenties I was solely focused on Microsoft,” he said, “I didn’t believe in weekends or vacations.” The host asked Gates to confirm an urban legend that has been circulating for the past few years. According to this, in the early days of Microsoft, the billionaire memorized the license plates of all his employees in order to know who was working a lot of overtime.

“There weren’t that many license plates. We only had a few hundred employees,” Gates said, seeming to confirm the story. “I can still tell you when they came in and went out,” he added. Gates credits his intensity to the “positive experience” he had at Microsoft, which he says still guides his thinking today. “I look at every problem through this innovation lens,” he said.

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