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Paul Allen's Microsoft Experience 515

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the looking-in-from-outside dept.
theodp writes "Just in case Microsoft bashers don't have enough ammo, Robert X. Cringely has a couple of interesting tales in this week's column. The first explains how Bill Gates used Paul Allen's moonlighting at MITS to justify awarding himself 64% of Microsoft's stock vs. Allen's 36% (and Gates' failure to adjust the shares after he accepted a $10/hour part-time MITS job). The second heart-warming tale concerns a conversation Allen reportedly overheard late one night (as he was finishing up DOS 2.0) between Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to get Allen's Microsoft stock back if the Hodgkins disease Allen was battling killed him. Yikes."
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Paul Allen's Microsoft Experience

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  • flamebate? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyranthus (893560) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:34PM (#15046880) Homepage
    oh come on, this isnt news this is flamebate, get it off the front page!
    • Re:flamebate? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Ctrl-Alt-Del (64339)
      I suppose it could be worse - it could be another Intelligent Design vs Evolution flame-fest. Guess it's all Slashdot is good for these days...
    • Re:flamebate? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:42PM (#15046906) Journal
      I am about as pro-Microsoft as you get on Slashdot. However, I do not find this to be flamebait. Granted, I am sure it will degenerate into troll-fest, with the biggest trolls getting +5 Insightful.

      It is a very interesting discuission. How would Microsoft be different if Paul Allen was 50% (or more) owner. The personality of the company be much different, that much is for sure. Would Microsoft have had the moxy to take over the PC world like it did? Would the architecture be even remotely like it is today?

      It is fascinating to me how much history depends on a few descisions. While this one may not be the largest in the world, it certainly has had a big impact on the PC world.
      • It is a very interesting discuission. How would Microsoft be different if Paul Allen was 50% (or more) owner. The personality of the company be much different, that much is for sure.

        And that would be interesting discussion. The summary, however, doesn't even come close to that as a possibility.

        The summary is definitely flamebait.

      • Re:flamebate? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by khallow (566160) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:14PM (#15047021)
        It is a very interesting discuission. How would Microsoft be different if Paul Allen was 50% (or more) owner. The personality of the company be much different, that much is for sure. Would Microsoft have had the moxy to take over the PC world like it did? Would the architecture be even remotely like it is today?

        My take is that Paul made the smart move here. Gates was the drive behind Microsoft and he wouldn't have gone full out, if he didn't have a big enough share. The bit about MITS was merely a pretext IMHO. As I mention elsewhere in this thread, the lion got the lion's share.

      • Re:flamebate? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by GoofyBoy (44399) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:14PM (#15047024) Journal
        Its flamebait. Look how the article is set up. "more ammo", "Heart-warming".

        >How would Microsoft be different if Paul Allen was 50% (or more) owner.

        Thats a great point, but do you really think this is the place that can insightfully discuss this?

        You want a better story? How about this;

        Apple's Finest Flip-Flops
        http://www.wired.com/news/culture/mac/0,70546-0.ht ml?tw=wn_index_4 [wired.com]

        Non-flamebait (unless you want to hang/defend Steve Jobs over everything he did in the past 15 years), interesting and tech-related.

        The Cringely article is just fuel for hate on slashdot.
        • Thanks. After reading your link, I have a new favorite sig ;)
          • Re:flamebate? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:57PM (#15047367) Homepage
            Thanks. After reading your link, I have a new favorite sig ;)
            --
            "We believe Internet Explorer is a really good browser. Internet Explorer is my browser of choice." -- Steve Jobs
            I know it sounds wrong now, but in 1997 it was true. Back then, Internet Explorer was the best web browser on the Mac; Netscape Communicator had become a bloated, crash-prone mess; there was no Opera for Mac, no iCab, no Firefox - there was pretty much no alternative... unless you count Mosaic or Cyberdog (yea right).
            • Re:flamebate? (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Phroggy (441) *
              Also don't forget that IE for Mac is nothing like IE for Windows; IE for Mac was one of the most standards-compliant browsers available on any platform at the time.
              • Re:flamebate? (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Jesus_666 (702802)
                Concerning standards and overall quality, IE5/Mac still beats the living crap out of IE6/Win. I'm not sure whether IE7/Win wil finally surpass it. Actually I would have liked Microsoft to just port Tasman (IE/Mac's rendering engine) to Windows for IE7 and build from that instead of sticking with Trident (IE/Win's rendering engine).
        • Re:flamebate? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by /ASCII (86998) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:36PM (#15047097) Homepage
          That 'Flip-flops'-story seems like a real non-starter for me. Pretty much every single one of those 'changes of hearts' from Applle seem like something else to me. Some where caused by major changes to the entire computing industry (IE vs. Safari, Portables), some where caused be different people being in control of the company from one decade to another (Newton, Apple II), some where situations where Apple caved in to expecations of the outside world, but the original prediction was correct (Video iPods, Digital convergence). Reading the list of Apple 'Flip flops' tells me that Apple seems to have an excellent feel for the pulse of the IT world, and that when they've made mistakes in the past, they've usually tried to move past them.
          • Re:flamebate? (Score:3, Interesting)

            I think you're letting them off a little too easy.

            8. Consumers cool to Cube

            The cube was a monumental flop. Not a 'major change to the entire industry', or 'different people in control', nor 'caving into expectations'. It was a disaster, unexpandable, underpowered and yanked after a year on the shelves, underselling. That is not the most shining example of a "feel for the pulse of the IT world". And "when they've made mistakes in the past, they've usually tried to move past them" - it's called survival.

            7.

        • by xmodem_and_rommon (884879) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:30AM (#15048132)
          I am going to examine each of these points one at a time. Some of them just make me cringe.

          Disclaimer: I was a PC user up until a couple of months ago, when I got a powerbook. I've barely used another computer since.

          10. Apple II Forever: The 1984 introduction of the compact Apple IIc, at a boisterous celebration in San Francisco's Moscone Center, is interrupted by a magnitude 6.2 earthquake. The party, called "Apple II Forever," doesn't miss a beat because loyal Apple II users are already shaken up by their belief the company is focusing too much on the Macintosh, even though the Apple II is generating the bulk of sales and profit.

          Unfortunately, nothing is forever, not even the Apple II -- although it comes close. On Nov. 15, 1993, more than 16 years after it was introduced, and with over 5 million units shipped, Apple quietly drops the last of the line, the Apple IIe. As a gesture to the faithful, Apple continues offering Apple II technology through an expansion card for some early Mac LC and Performa models.



          What type of computer
          sells well
          for 8 YEARS?

          I mean, seriously, am I the only one that thinks that's one hell of a long time for them to be selling what's essentially the same computer? It most likely got too expensive for them to keep selling it, and they dropped it.

          9. Portable predictions: Apple chief Steve Jobs is lauded for his forward thinking, but he misses the boat on notebook computers. "(Smaller portables) are OK if you're a reporter and trying to take notes on the run," he tells Playboy magazine in February 1985. "But for the average person, they're really not that useful, and there's not all that much software for them, either."

          He eventually changes his tune but Apple's first stab at a laptop, a 15.8-pound behemoth dubbed the Macintosh Portable, isn't much to write home about. Apple finally gets it right in 1991 when it introduces the truly portable PowerBook. Despite the PowerBook's popularity, a dozen years pass before Jobs declares 2003 "the year of the notebook" for Apple. "Many users are going to wonder why they even need a desktop computer anymore," he says then.


          I'm not that old, and I can't really remember 1985, so I can't say for certain. But I gather from his quote that all the "portables" in that day resembled somewhat different hardware and software configurations to their desktop equivalants. I doubt that the macintosh in that form could be minaturized to a "portable" in 1985, either.

          By the 1990s, there were companies selling laptops with 68k processors, that, with the addition of a ROM chip ripped from a mac, could run Mac OS. This arrangement was, obviously, very expensive for anyone who wanted an apple laptop, yet these clones were still selling. Did apple really have a choice about it?

          8. Consumers cool to Cube: Never one to shy away from hyperbole, Jobs pronounces the G4 Cube as "simply the coolest computer ever" at Macworld New York in 2000. Apple gushes over its latest creation: "An entirely new class of computer, it marries the Pentium-crushing performance of the Power Mac G4 with the miniaturization, silent operation and elegant desktop design of the iMac. It is an amazing engineering and design feat, and we're thrilled to finally unveil it to our customers."

          It doesn't turn out to be all that cool. Although praised for Jonathan Ive's innovative industrial design, the Cube fails to catch on with creative professionals because it's too expensive ($1,800), not powerful enough (450 MHz) and hard to upgrade. The Cube is put on ice in July 2001.


          The cube was cool. Admit it. It had problems. I can admit that. It wasn't selling, so it was cancelled.

          I will take a break at this point to point out that two of these three are nothing other than apple discontinuing products because they weren't selling. Yeah, shocking, isn't it.

          What's next? Oooh, a real one.

          7. Death to CRTs: Introducing the flat-panel iMac at Macworld San Francisc
      • Re:flamebate? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Frumious Wombat (845680) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:15PM (#15047031)
        If you accept a Forbes article from 1999 or so, the culture of modern Microsoft is mostly Balmer's creation. Bill may have had the vision, but it's Balmer's Napoleon complex (if you believe Forbes, literal Napoleon complex) that enable Microsoft to become the behemoth it is.

        Once Balmer was on board, Allen might not have been able to do much to influence Microsoft's culture.
      • by AWhiteFlame (928642) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:25PM (#15047060) Homepage
        > I am about as pro-Microsoft as you get on Slashdot.
        Wow, you must really hate Microsoft.
      • by MikeFM (12491) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:44PM (#15047127) Homepage Journal
        From what I've studied of Microsoft over the years I'd have to say that if Paul Allen was still the guy in charge I might not be using Linux as my primary OS today. What originally drove me away from Windows and commercial software in general was the attitude that companies had when you had problems with their product. This all stems from the attitudes of the owners of these companies and most of all Bill Gates who is largely the founder and role model of the commercial software industry.

        This bad attitude is at the center of the poor customer support, poorly designed and implemented products, and general lack of concern for what effect they're having on their customers and society at large. If Paul Allen had kept the reigns of the PC revolution the entire world could be a very different place now.

        By being so extremist in his position Bill Gates created his own worst enemy in the form of free opensource software. It was his influence that created the need for a counter-influence. Someone more centered would never have created such a strong counter-culture.

        Apple had a similar experience between Jobs and Woz though so maybe it's just something that was bound to happen.
        • by dido (9125)

          To be more precise, Gates added fuel to the fire that made Open Source / Free Software the force to be reckoned with. Many years before Microsoft became an important force in the world of computing, Richard Stallman at the MIT AI lab experienced that now famous spat with proprietary printer software [gnu.org] from Xerox, which is similar to your own experiences with Microsoft software, that eventually led to the creation of the GNU Project. Gates basically, with his heavy handed attitude, made this an issue that aff

  • by Phantombrain (964010) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:34PM (#15046881) Journal
    Any Bets that Allen uses Linux now?
  • Yikes??!! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by USAPatriot (730422) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:46PM (#15046924) Homepage
    The second heart-warming tale concerns a conversation Allen reportedly overheard late one night (as he was finishing up DOS 2.0) between Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to get Allen's Microsoft stock back if the Hodgkins disease Allen was battling killed him. Yikes."

    First of all, Cringely doesn't even attribute this information to a real source in his article, so there is no way anybody can even verify this. He just says two good sources, which mean almost nothing.

    The second thing is, this sort of planning happens all the time at every big company. I know most of the slashbots probably never worked a real job, but it's good planning in the corporate world to know plan for where such a huge share of stock is going to go.

    In short, this article is such a hack job looking for biters, I don't even know why it was posted to slashdot. Wait, actually this was a perfect article for slashdot.

    • Re:Yikes??!! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Nutria (679911)
      The second thing is, this sort of planning happens all the time at every big company. I know most of the slashbots probably never worked a real job, but it's good planning in the corporate world to know plan for where such a huge share of stock is going to go.

      In the real, honest world, Gates and Ballmer go to Allen (and his wife?) and ask if they've done any estate planning, so that Allen's estate gets to keep the stock instead of having to sell it off to pay inheritance taxes.

      Only truly Evil, greedy bastar
  • by Raul654 (453029) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:51PM (#15046941) Homepage
    Let's say, hypothetically, Allen had died of Hodgkin's lymphoma in 1982, as discussed in the story. At that point, he owned 36% of Microsoft. The shares, as his personal property, would have been deeded out in his will (let's say to hypothetical party X), gone through probate, and then X would have them. How would Balmer and Gates have "gotten them back"?
    • You are right. There is no way to force the issue. However, I believe with majority ownership, a plan could have been put into place to give the other owners to have the right to buy at fair market value. The heirs would have received cash if Bill and company could pony up.

      I think that simply having the majority voting rights would have enabled them to get this type of rule passed, but I am not 100% positive.
      • by pavera (320634) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:12PM (#15047016) Homepage Journal
        Either that or they could have created some other rules basically dilution rules, stating that their 64% were not subject to dilution (or diluted at a rate of 1% or something) and then issued a couple hundred million shares, basically diluting allens 36% down to nothing, and keeping their 64% stake. At the time back in '82 I'm sure MS only had a couple million shares on the books.. Basically it would work like this:

        Say MS had 1 million shares, bill has 64% or 640,000, allen has 360,000... They pass a rule stating that their 640000 aren't subject to dilution (IE any new stock issues they get 64% of) and then proceed to issue 100 million shares... they now have 64,000,000 shares, they stick 35,640,000 shares in a trust to be given to future employees (or sold on the market, or whatever) and allen is left with his 360,000 shares which are now 1/3 of 1% of the company. Thus, he (or his heirs) are effectively removed from any meaningful involvment in the company, and they don't have to give anything (cash or otherwise to them).

        This would be totally legal, and 100% possible given majority voting rights.
         
        • Sorry. I don't think you can apply non-dilution rules discriminatory manner. They could apply to all of the owners, not just some of them. Otherwise this would be pulled on any company with a minority owner.

          If I am wrong, please cite a source. I am always willing to be proven wrong ;)
          • Workarounds (Score:4, Interesting)

            by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:48PM (#15047526) Homepage Journal
            You're right, but there are always workarounds. Here's how I might do it.

            Presumably Gates, Balmer and Allen had a certain class of shares, probably along with some other early investors, which were not held by the general shareholders.

            So, for the fiscal year 1983 (after Allen left), they could create a new class of shares and match 1:1 with shares from the new class to shares in the old class, for people actively involved in the betterment of the company (not Allen) as an employee stock incentive. Then they could dillute the class of shares that Allen held, including Gates and Balmer's shares (but they don't care, they have the new class).

            Of course, IANAPSM (I am not a professional stock manipulator), but it seems if there's a will there's a way.
        • by spiritraveller (641174) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:40PM (#15047113)
          This would be totally legal, and 100% possible given majority voting rights.

          Majority rule is not the only rule. Nor is it the most important.

          Not sure where you got the idea for this, but it's very far from legal. As a majority shareholder, you have a fiduciary duty to all shareholders in how you govern the company. That means you have a legal obligation to look out for their best interests. Ripping people off is obviously not looking out for their best interests.

          Also, you cannot discriminate against shareholders within a class of shares. They have to be treated as one group.
        • by Kris Warkentin (15136) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:48PM (#15047336) Homepage
          640,000 shares ought to be enough for anyone....

    • They could have bought them back from party X for a pittance.
    • Well you have to consider this was still 1982, Microsoft was hardly a household name. I think it is likely that they would have gone to party X and made them a offer in cash to "take it off their hands".
    • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:11PM (#15047013) Homepage
      How would Balmer and Gates have "gotten them back"?

      Buy them. If you have a company with a small number of owners (Microsoft didn't IPO until 1986 [microsoft.com]), you don't want to have 36% of the voting rights suddenly go to someone that knows nothing about the company (or technology in general) -- they could wreck the place. It's pretty common for companies to have rules spelled out for handling such situations (e.g. terms for other owners to buy out) when a key person leaves/dies. Cringely seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill (and I'm not a MS fanboy).
      • by CDarklock (869868) on Monday April 03, 2006 @12:00AM (#15048033) Homepage Journal
        > Cringely seems to be making a mountain out
        > of a molehill (and I'm not a MS fanboy).

        I agree, and I'm a Microsoft Partner.

        Basically, the question they were facing is a very real question. Whenever you have several people involved in a startup and one of them faces health issues, it is highly important to create a contingency plan in the event of their death.

        A common version of such a plan is to take out life insurance on the individual which pays sufficient benefits to purchase his share of the company outright. This generally gives his heirs something in excess of the cash value of the shares, which makes them happy, and keeps the shares themselves within the company family - which makes it happy.

        See, some of us *can* think rationally.
    • That question is answered in incredible detail in a book titled "O'Neal's Oppression of Minority Stockholders". Everyone who gets stock in compensation should look through a copy.
  • by Puchku (615680) <Email@@@adityanag...com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:52PM (#15046950) Homepage
    Not that I like Bill or his business tactics, but to be fair to him, isn't it true that the B&MG Foundation has donated a few billion dollars to worthy causes? Not to mention Bill's public and well known intention to give away as much money as possible before his death? I mean, sure, the guy is a shark in business.. but he's not exactly Darth Vader, y'know..
    • Sure he is. Rockefeller engaged in a lot of well-publicized philanthropy in an effort to polish his image too, but in the end he was still a monster, who did a lot of damage along the way. And we'll see just how much money Gates actually gives away. Odds are it won't be as much as he claims, because there will be a lot of people that will go to court to try and prevent it, and maybe in the end he won't want to anyways. Frankly, I don't believe a word that comes out of that man's mouth.
    • by koko775 (617640) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:09PM (#15047007)
      To be fair to the robber barons of the late 1800s/early 1900s, didn't many of them donate to charitable causes? Well, yes, but that doesn't mean they weren't interfering with the free market or unfairly competing due to excessive market power. The B&MG Foundation is a boon to humanity, but that doesn't mean that it counterbalances Microsoft's misdeeds. I think it's perfectly fair to call MS on their (I hesitate to use this word, as it's misused too easily) immoral alleged dealings with Paul Allen, IMO.
    • Exactly how much of the wealth that you acquire by committing crimes against humanity do you have to give away before you get away with it?
      • All of it (Score:5, Interesting)

        by CustomDesigned (250089) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:15PM (#15047030) Homepage Journal
        A good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children, but the wealth of the sinner is stored up for the righteous. Proverbs 13:22
      • If you call selling not-so-optimal software and illegal monopolistic practices crimes against humanity you maybe should read up about real crimes against humanity like the holocaust, the numerous genocides like in Ruanda, in the Balkans or in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouges. Crimes against humanity, my ass. Guys like you really should get out more.
        • Well, personally I'd agree that Microsoft's criminal business practices more are theft than crimes against humanity, according to the accepted legal term.

          Yes, Microsoft hasn't participated in mass murders or normal atrocities against civilians -- but have literally lowered the quality of life for many people. With more competition, there would have been more alternatives and faster evolution in the software jungle. That would mean a better life for me and many others. (I guess we should be happy Gates did

      • by The Bungi (221687) <thebungi@gmail.com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:04PM (#15047200) Homepage
        Hitler called. Says Godwin wants his hyperbolic, I've-lost-all-sense-of-measure argument back in time for some African warlord's trial for genocide at the Hague. Unless you're busy using it on Slashdot.
    • Let's exaggerate this a bit. Say some guy is responsible for the deaths of thousands of people, but through doing this he aquires great amounts of money. If he gives half of the money away, does that make him a good guy? I dunno.
    • The Gates Defence (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sedyn (880034)
      If I shot someone yesterday, but I gave an old lady on the bus my seat today, would that make me a good person? Or would I have to give a million seats away.

      Trying to cast Bill Gates as a 21st century Robin Hood (takes from the richest and gives to the poorest) to defend the various critisms of him is suspect at best. In fact, I like calling it, the Gates defence, being a subset of the chewbaca defence.

      Giving money away, if you have enough of it, is easy. Being truely forgiven for past sins (and in this
    • Not that I like Bill or his business tactics, but to be fair to him, isn't it true that the B&MG Foundation has donated a few billion dollars to worthy causes?

      No, that's not true. Because of Microsoft's business practices, that money belongs to you, your family, friends, and neighbors. It's your misappropriated money which is going to good causes. Every time somebody buys a bare-bones PC without an operating system yet still pays for Windows it is, in part, that person's money which is getting funnel
    • Yes, he's giving away lot.

      However, study some business economics and have your ears wide open when the topic is "monopoly profits". The thing about them is that the profit of the monopoly is much, much lower than the damage it causes to the general public. For every $ that Bill has made, he's done 2, 3, maybe 5 $ worth of damage to the public.

      In other words: Yes, he gives a billion or two away. That is a) our money and b) we'd have several times that if it weren't for him. Which leads to c) in a fair market
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:54PM (#15046961)
    If you have dealt with MS for any length of time. Truth is, this stuff is putting BG in a better light than what he truely deserves. One interesting note, is that most people who are invited to BG's birthday only go, because it would be an insult to not go. Few really wish to go. Basically, BG is a SOB. Few who have worked with him, have a kind word to say about him.
     
    OTH, many love going to Paul's because he really is a nice guy.
  • Guilt (Score:5, Funny)

    by ickoonite (639305) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:55PM (#15046964) Homepage
    I wonder if this is the root of all of Bill Gates's philanthropy - giving to assuage the guilt wrought by past malfeasances. Like this.

    Couple that with the fact that Ballmer is clearly a psychopath (*ducks*) and the Gates-Ballmer leadership looks quite scary. Microsoft truly are evil.

    iqu :?
    • Re:Guilt (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      Well, I once heard it said that a psychopath is someone who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong, and a socipath is someone who does know ... but just doesn't care. Balmer is probably in the latter category, which puts him right up there with the rest of corporate leadership worldwide.

      Besides, you can tell a lot about a man from the caliber of his friends ... which doen't say much for either Gates or Ballmer.
      • Re:Guilt (Score:5, Interesting)

        by duffahtolla (535056) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @09:36PM (#15047664)
        Well, I once heard it said that a psychopath is someone who doesn't know the difference between right and wrong, and a socipath is someone who does know ... but just doesn't care. Balmer is probably in the latter category, which puts him right up there with the rest of corporate leadership worldwide.

        You have no idea how true that is. Heres what an expert in criminal psychology states about mafia hitmen, rapists and CEOs.

        From here [fastcompany.com]:

        According to the Canadian Press and Toronto Sun reporters who rescued the moment from obscurity, Hare began by talking about Mafia hit men and sex offenders, whose photos were projected on a large screen behind him. But then those images were replaced by pictures of top executives from WorldCom, which had just declared bankruptcy, and Enron, which imploded only months earlier. The securities frauds would eventually lead to long prison sentences for WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers and Enron CFO Andrew Fastow.

        "These are callous, cold-blooded individuals," Hare said.

        "They don't care that you have thoughts and feelings. They have no sense of guilt or remorse." He talked about the pain and suffering the corporate rogues had inflicted on thousands of people who had lost their jobs, or their life's savings. Some of those victims would succumb to heart attacks or commit suicide, he said.

        Then Hare came out with a startling proposal. He said that the recent corporate scandals could have been prevented if CEOs were screened for psychopathic behavior. "Why wouldn't we want to screen them?" he asked. "We screen police officers, teachers. Why not people who are going to handle billions of dollars?"

        ...

        "I always said that if I wasn't studying psychopaths in prison, I'd do it at the stock exchange," Hare told Fast Company.

  • by voss (52565) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:57PM (#15046968)
    Lets keep perspective before we feel too sorry for him.
  • by PhoenixK7 (244984) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @05:58PM (#15046970)
    Recent internal Microsoft memos confirm that the company, despite popular belief, solely exists for the purpose of acting as whipping boy for the website slashdot.org. Sources confirm that the company has recently held meetings about finding new ways to stir the coals including mention of developing more stories that involve reasons to despise the company's execs. Gates was recently quoted as saying, "We're not getting any great flamebait anymore, they're all pretty apathetic and mundane these days. They're just repeating the same stuff. We need some fresh blood out there!" Sources close to the matter, indicated that leaks were being set up for personal information about the companies founders to "put a face" on the object of the vitriol, and to drive and develop Microsoft's interests at Slashdot through the coming years.

    When asked for comment, Slashdot posters likened the news to an extension of Microsoft's embrace-and-extend methodology that the company applies to product development. "We won't be duped by this one, we can't let Microsoft to develop a monopoly on sarcastic and derisive commentary." Other posters used lots of exclamation points and mixed caps, and thus were excluded from this press release.

    (It's a joke guys, I'm not intending this as flamebait ;-)
  • Stories about corporate backstabbing would be much cuter with yesterday's pink skin. And ponies.
  • by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann,slashdot&gmail,com> on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:06PM (#15046994) Homepage Journal
    From TFA:

    Climb high enough in the organization, and it becomes clear that Microsoft's success has not always been based on legal or ethical behavior.

    I have to admit, we need more of these articles out there. Here in Slashdot we know all about it, so we'd get the typical captain of the obvious or "no sh*t sherlock" responses, but we need the general public to read more of them.

    • by nickgrieve (87668) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:49PM (#15047144) Journal
      Why? What difference does it make. MS are not 'Evil'... in the way that Halliburton, Exxon, [insert Uranium/copper/diamond strip mine corp here) are evil.

      MS make software that run computers, they don't prop up Dictatorships, cause civil unrest in 3rd world countries, kill 10's of thousands of people and wash thier hands of it (looking at you Union Carbide) There a Corps out there that make Bill and his friends look like saints, and people already know this, but... THEY JUST DON'T CARE... if they don't care about the real Evil Corporations they won't care about MS... they will just shrug, stuff their face with burgers and get back to the Xbox...
  • Wishful thinking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by VGR (467274) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:07PM (#15046995)
    From the final paragraph in the article:
    Based purely on character (or lack of it), I confidently predict that Microsoft is going down.
    Yeah, right.

    I'm about as anti-Microsoft as you can get. I hate them. I hate them for making bad software and forcing zillions of people to use it instead of letting those people make a choice. I hate them for essentially undermining the best qualities of capitalism.

    Many times I've wanted to believe "this is the end" and Microsoft is finally going to have the reputation in the general, non-techie public eye that they deserve to have. Heck, I'm still hoping the Vista debacle will be that trigger.

    But to believe that one lawyer in Iowa is going to bring them down, when the full weight of the U.S. Department of Justice couldn't do it, and the E.U. is still trying to do it, is wishful thinking. Maybe Cringely just had to end with something dramatic.

    • Re:Wishful thinking (Score:5, Informative)

      by smartin (942) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:49PM (#15047142)
      But to believe that one lawyer in Iowa is going to bring them down, when the full weight of the U.S. Department of Justice couldn't do it, and the E.U. is still trying to do it, is wishful thinking.

      Actually if i remember correctly the DOJ did bring them down, had them up against the wall and could have done anything they wanted. Then the administration changed and they were let off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:09PM (#15047008)
    However you hate Gates and/or Ballmer, this piece is nothing more than second hand hearsay. Everything is based on what Allen supposedly heard and was rapported by two assumed reliable sources. Well, if Allen hasn't come up with accusations himself, nothing is substantiated and Cringely is basically throwing mud gratuitiously. He may hide behind his sources, but eventually he's the one doing the mud job.

    Now we'll speculate as to why he would position himself this way, about how anti-establishment he implicitly is, how visionary and rightous he is about the computer industry. By stooping so low, he is only hurting himself and attributing intent to people who obviously have better things to do. Whatever, most of us already take his pieces as entertainement anyway. Doesn't mean he didn't cross a line and isn't responsible for his actions. I don't think he's important enough anymore to be noticed by the mainstream press, but his opinions are not merely disparaging, they can be attributed to plain and simple mischief. What's infuriating is not that he wrote it, it's that people will link to it and discuss it while it's not deserving of any attention. Fool me once, you can't fool me twice as the post-modern saying tells us.

    • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:53PM (#15047351)
      Cringely is basically throwing mud gratuitiously. He may hide behind his sources, but eventually he's the one doing the mud job.

      To Mud, or not To Mud, that is the Question?

      Is Cringley throwing mud?

      Or is Cringley reporting corroborated facts?

      Or is reporting facts equivalent to throwing mud when the facts are ugly.

      I don't know.

      You don't know.

      But I'm not the one concluding that because the purported facts are ugly that they are automatically equated with Mud.

      Given Bill Gates access to lawyers, and Cringley's relative poverty and valuable reputation, I'd say RXC is certainly erring on the side of caution and has good reason to have said what he has said. Bill Gates, and Paul Allen who is also party to this, may not be as litigious as, say, Tom Cruise, but who wants to find out first?

    • Thanks Bill, but you can just use your normal handle here. We know you read Slashdot.
  • by smithpg1002 (542353) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:26PM (#15047064)
    I know some will disagree with this, but being an owner of serveral technology companies, one of which doing classified work, ownership is something I have to worry about. If, God forbid, something does happen to one of my partners, and that ownership is given to the family, or lands in probate court for years, it has a chance of seriously hampering operations of the company. For one thing, the family is not involved in the operations, and could make incorrect decisions, or worse, sell off their ownership to anyone with the finances. Now, I do have some say in the sell of ownership, as a clause of the original agreements, and they do too, but these kinds of things really are a problem to fight. It sucks having to entertain those thoughts, but it is necessary. I think Cringley is always looking for fodder on Bill any chance he can, myself, I could care less. I use Macs as my primary machines, but have a Dell/Windows for games (if I ever have time for them) and my database sandbox is on Redhat AS 4.
    • by Dryth (544014)
      Another voice of agreement for lack of mod points.

      For anecdote's sake, this is similar to what caused my grandfather's decades-old business to go down the toilet. When his business partner died, enough control was left in the hands of the former-partner's family to effectively castrate the company. Their collective interest was in killing off the company so they could sell off its assets, and eventually they managed to do exactly that.

      It really sucks to have to think in terms of looting the dead, but occasi
  • by IvyKing (732111) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:27PM (#15047067)
    I do have memories of MS being a halfways decent company at the same time that DRI was having some issues with arrogance - but that's when Allen was still pretty much in charge. During the DOS 2.0 days, MS was willing to allow customers other than IBM to package their own version of MS-DOS - Compaq's DOS v3.31 was a notable example. It may have been CPQ's DOS v3.31 embarrassed MS so much, that they decided put a stop to vendor specific versions of DOS.

    After Ballmer stepped in, support for fringe platforms (i.e. not strictly PC-compatible) was pretty much dropped, up through 2.0, MS-DOS ran on quite a variety of 8086/8 boxes.

    Now to think of it, MS dropping Xenix happened about this same time frame.

  • What I like is... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FridayBob (619244) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:27PM (#15047068) Homepage
    ...Microsoft goes to court later this year in what might well be its last-ever anti-trust trial. ...
    I confidently predict that Microsoft is going down.
    That's at the end of the article. I sure do hope Cringely is proved right when Iowa wins and Microsoft's style gets crimped.
  • "gay" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @06:33PM (#15047089) Homepage
    OK, mod me down as offtopic if necessary, but I'm getting really tired of seeing homophobia splattered all over my screen every time I visit the Slashdot home page. The people who run Slashdot obviously need to admit that there is a problem with the way tagging works, since "tagging" seems to be turning into "tagging" in the sense of graffiti. It was an experiment, and the experiment seems to have shown some problems. Now it's time to turn off this misfeature until they can figure out a way to keep it from making Slashdot look like a high school bathroom wall. Maybe tags need to be moderated or something.

    If the point is to get people to subscribe, well, (1) this kind of juvenilia makes me even less likely to subscribe, (2) it stinks to let people pay money and thereby get the privilege of vandalizing the site, and (3) if they want people to subscribe, they might want to do a more professional job of running the site (eliminate dupes, and get people to select science articles who actually know something about science).

  • What a Whingely (Score:4, Informative)

    by FishandChips (695645) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:25PM (#15047275) Journal
    This is a non-article. It has a pompous title, "Prisoner of Redmond", followed by some tittle-tattle from 20-30 years ago that only gives one side of the story, then it cuts to today and a court case that has no real connection with the rest of the article. The end is pure opinion: "Based purely on character (or lack of it), I confidently predict that Microsoft is going down."

    I'm no fan of Microsoft (Linux here) but you don't get to where Gates is today by being a man with no talent or qualities. I'm still waiting for a lot of Cringely's oh-so-confident predictions about Google and their alleged container-size data centers to pan out. He seems to have gone very quiet on that front lately. Spinning a highly dubious yarn from yesteryear is no substitute for some journalism. Just my 2 cents, but I think Cringely is getting lazy.
  • by craXORjack (726120) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @07:34PM (#15047304)
    Microsoft's success has not always been based on legal or ethical behavior. The company is, after all, a convicted monopolist, and the exercise of those monopoly powers wasn't just through a Gates or a Ballmer, but also through dozens of top managers, at least some of whom had to have known that what they were doing was wrong.

    I just want to point out to anyone who wasn't following the (pre-2001) anti-trust suit that it is not a crime to have a monopoly. It is perfectly legal and what all companies aim for. What Microsoft got in trouble for (before the Bush administration basically dropped it) was that they were using their monopoly power to limit competition and leverage their way into new monopolies, i.e. Windows-->Office, Windows-->Browser, Windows-->Internet Provider...

  • by xtieburn (906792) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:46PM (#15047520)
    This is such trash.

    I mean other than the fact that the article is information from a friend of a friend whos like really really good friends with the friend of Paul Allen but it also sounds suspiciously made up.

    Ahh hes sold shares that must mean he hates Microsoft. Nooo Bill Gates has also sold shares a hell of a lot of them. His total stake in Microsoft was less than 10% in 2005 thats been dropping for a long time and hes still selling. Doesnt mean he despises his company now does it.

    What about the punishing work while ill? Maybe he actually got Hodgkins in 1982 but he was diagnosed in 1983 DOS 2.0 came out in March doesnt exactly leave a huge amount of time for his aparent slave labour and his heroic completion of the O/S.

    Oh but he left the company forever, he must have had a bad experience at the hands of evil Bill. Not quite. He is still an advisor to MS to this day. Now sure that isnt exactly a large role in the company he created but how many people with billions of dollars would stay in any position at a company that, according to this site, drove you near to death and conspired to destroy you when you were there?

    I mean his leaving couldnt possibly have had anything to do with the fact that he had to work really hard before, but was now a rich man recovering from a life threatening disease. Yeah I can imagine he was raring to jump back in to long shifts at MS, but theres no chance of that with evil Bill standing guard.

    Finally, the oh so familiar, Microsoft is going down, comment. Take a quick look at just about every article that guy has ever written involving Microsoft. Nearly all of them contain some way of Microsoft going down. Nearly all of them are speculatory trash often including a list of 'funny' scenarios.

    This is pure flamebait from someone clearly biassed against the company. I mean trying to get me to feel sympathy for the 6th richest man in the world who has spent a large portion of his entire life living off the company this site claims crushed him...

    Oh and unlike his hearsay you can do a quick search in Google and youll find information backing up every point I made. (Some of which actually came from the site he used to support him, forbes.)
  • Character issue (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @08:59PM (#15047560) Homepage
    Gates and Steve Ballmer discussing how to get Allen's Microsoft stock back if the Hodgkins disease Allen was battling killed him. Yikes.

    I think that pretty well reflects MSFT's corporate character. Petty, greedy, and paranoid.

  • by eric76 (679787) on Sunday April 02, 2006 @11:32PM (#15047960)

    I got a kick out of this:

    when Paul Allen-the-billionaire wanted some fast food late at night and -- not having a car -- WALKED through the drive-through as part of a long line of cars.

    I did that once myself. I didn't want to drive across the street from my office to the Taco Bell late one night so I just walked. It turned out that only the drive-through was open. So I took my turn between the cars standing in line. It took about half an hour before I got to the front of the line. I felt a bit idiotic standing there.

    I never saw or heard of anyone else doing that until now.

    I also used to regularly go through the drive-up line in the bank on my bicycle. But that didn't feel quite as wierd as standing in line at Taco Bell.

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