Sunday, June 29, 2008

Who Will Fill Bill Gates’ Shoes?

Bill Gates is retiring as an employee of Microsoft to focus on his philanthropic foundation. More than any other single person, Gates defined the PC era. His products touch nearly every computer user on the planet. And he created what is still the biggest technology wealth machine in Microsoft. But now that he is leaving, who will fill his shoes?

I don’t mean who will fill his shoes at Microsoft. Gates stepped back from day-to-day management years ago, handing his business responsibilities to CEO Steve Ballmer and technology responsibilities to chief software architect Ray Ozzie. What I mean is: Who will carry on his legacy and define the current Web era of computing?

It is unlikely there will ever be another Bill Gates if for the only reason that Gates’ influence stemmed from his control of the computing platform of choice (the PC, through Windows). The computing platform of choice today is the Web, and no single person or company can control that. But there are plenty of Web company founders out there—from large companies to small startups—that are turning the Web into a platform for applications and creating new kinds of software as a result.More>>