Bill Gates leaving Microsoft in 2008

Bill Gates, Craig Mundie, Ray Ozzie, Steve Ballmer

Microsoft founder Bill Gates is stepping down from his full-time role at Microsoft to spend more time on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Microsoft announced the two year transition plan for Gates shortly after the close of U.S. financial markets. Ray Ozzie will assume Bill Gates’ job title of Chief Software Architect after recently completing his team’s integration of Groove Networks into Office 2007.

Bill Gates will be 52 years-old when he steps down from Microsoft and he is currently worth about $50 billion according to Forbes. The current life expectancy for a male in the United States is 75 years, but healthy billionaires with good medical care are living longer lives in good condition. If you were 52 years-old and worth $50 billion would you go to work every day when you’ve been all over the earth and seen the difference you could make?

Bill Gates is stepping down from Microsoft and will no longer play a day-to-day role in creating the latest smart watches or new digitized handwriting techniques. Instead Gates will be working on fighting worldwide issues such as malaria, currently responsible for about 11% of child deaths in developing nations.

I think Bill Gates’ transition away from Microsoft is a really good thing for him as well as the world. Microsoft will lose some celebrity power both inside and outside the company, and will need to revamp marketing campaigns around the new executives. Microsoft employees can currently author ThinkWeek papers to propose new products and initiatives for consideration by executives. Historically Bill Gates has read these papers during a week-long retreat once a quarter to plan new business strategy. I expect Ray Ozzie and Craig Mundie may share this internal thought leadership duty in the future. Bill Gates is a recognized name and face throughout the world and now those recognitions may be more evenly distributed.