7 takeaways from Bill Gates’ Rolling Stone interview

Bill Gates

As Bill Gates forges a new role at Microsoft advising new CEO Satya Nadella, his interview with Rolling Stone‘s Jeff Goodell is a must-read — so, seriously, read all of it. But for now, here are seven key points.

1. What the $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition says about Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg

“It means that Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be the next Facebook. Mark has the credibility to say, ‘I’m going to spend $19 billion to buy something that has essentially no revenue model.’ I think his aggressiveness is wise — although the price is higher than I would have expected.” … Microsoft would have been willing to buy it, too. . . . I don’t know for $19 billion, but the company’s extremely valuable.

2: On how Zuckerberg differs from Gates

“I give him more credit for shaping the user interface of his product. He’s more of a product manager than I was. I’m more of a coder, down in the bowels and the architecture, than he is.”

3: Edward Snowden: Hero or villain?

“I think he broke the law, so I certainly wouldn’t characterize him as a hero.”

4: On taxation and income inequality

“Well, now you’re getting into sort of complicated issues. In general, on taxation-type things, you’d think of me as a Democrat. That is, when tax rates are below, say, 50 percent, I believe there often is room for additional taxation.”

5: On the government’s ability or inability to fix big problems like those

“You have to have a certain realism that government is a pretty­ blunt instrument and without the constant attention of highly qualified people with the right metrics, it will fall into not doing things very well.”

6: On the Healthcare.gov roll-out debacle

“They should have done better. But that’s a minor issue compared to the notion of ‘Will they get enough people in the risk pool so that the pricing is OK?’ And some of the price-rigging they’ve done, where the young overpay relative to the old, is a problem. You know, it’s all intended for a good thing, which is access. But it’s layered on top of a system that has huge pricing-capacity problems. Which it basically did not address.”

7; On talking with investor and climate-change denier Charles Koch about climate change

“He’s a very nice person, and he has this incredible business track record. He was pointing out that the U.S. alone can’t solve the problem, and that’s factually correct. But you have to view the U.S. doing something as a catalyst for getting China and others to do things. The atmosphere is the ultimate commons. We all benefit from it, and we’re all polluting it.”


Comments have been disabled for this post