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As Bill Gates gets set to decamp from Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) — he’ll get the plaque and the cheap watch on June 27 — WSJ does some good work, examining the past eight years of torch-passing from Gates to his good friend and current CEO Steve Ballmer. The gist: The initial period of transition starting in 2000 saw a lot of tension, some of which paralyzed the company’s internet efforts. Eventually, however, Gates learned to get comfortable with the fact that he was no longer the one in charge. At least officially, Gates fully stands by Ballmer’s Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) strategy, though reports have suggested he was never fully on board with the acquisition.
The whole time I was reading it though, I kept thinking about one thing. Finally, at the very end, reporter Robert Guth gets to it: “The question remains if Mr. Gates can resist the temptation to dive back in if Microsoft hits a crisis point. Over the past decade, several high-profile founders jumped back in when their companies were under siege, including Steve Jobs, who remade Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) Inc., and Michael Dell of Dell Inc. and Howard Schultz of Starbucks Corp. ‘There is a savior complex that says, ‘I’m the only one who can restore it to its glory,’ says David A. Nadler, senior partner at consulting firm Oliver Wyman Group. Mr. Gates says he’s happy to help on some long-term projects, but won’t return full-time. ‘I am done with that,’ he said.”