I don't go on Reddit too often, but I do find some of the "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) threads to be really interesting, especially when someone like Bill Gates is answering the questions.
Everyone's favorite billionaire answered Reddit's questions last Monday, and in true AMA fashion, came across as much more down to earth than we'd expect. Some of his answers are surprising, and being that he's not discussed often on WSO, I figured it'd be good to bring up some good points from someone who is extremely successful outside the world of finance.
And now, let's get to some good questions and answers!
Q: Since becoming wealthy, what's the cheapest thing that gives you the most pleasure?
BG: Kids. Cheap cheeseburgers. Open Course Ware courses...
Not sure if Bill is getting his cheeseburgers at In-N-Out -- because if so, that's kinda cheating -- but I enjoyed this answer a lot. Interesting to see someone like Bill Gates, who is undoubtedly very smart and extremely accomplished, talk about OpenCourseWare being something that interests him so much. If I were sitting on $65bil, it's hard to see myself wanting to learn new things through college-level courses online...but to each his own!
Q: I'm not Bill Gates, but he has made a huge positive influence. Many wealthy people I know point to Bill Gates as their idol. Not for his Microsoft days, but for his philanthropy. He also simultaneously killed many of my friend's hundred million dollar trust funds after their parents discovered that Bill was only leaving $10 million for his children.
BG: I definitely think leaving kids massive amounts of money is not a favor to them. Warren was part of an article in Fortune talking about this in 1986 before I met him and it made me think about it and decide he was right. Some people disagree with this but Melinda and I feel good about it.
First of all, whoever is asking this question (or, more accurately, simply making this statement...) is in a very strange situation, having "many" friends who had HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR trust funds...what? Do you have have many friends with trust funds that large? Anyway, interesting to see Bill make the argument that leaving kids with a lot of money is a detriment -- probably true, although I doubt he's leaving his kids completely poor either. Then again, I guess a million bucks ain't exactly what it used to be.
Q: What do you do for fun? I find it hard to fathom how someone like you can just disconnect. Disconnect from the emails, calls ,the media. All of it. What would be your definition of a chill and fun day?
BG: I love playing tennis. I am an avid bridge player (a card game if you have not heard of it - it was more popular in the past!). I like to tour interesting things with my kids like power plants, garbage dumps, the Large Hadron Collider, Antarctica, missile Silos (Arizona),... I read a lot and watch courses (online or the Learning Company)..
I'm a bridge player myself, and find it hard to believe that Bill had to explain that it was a card game in his answer (really, no one plays bridge anymore!?). Must be nice to just be able to visit the Large Hadron Collider like it's no big deal, though.
Q: How was your relationship with Steve jobs? I always hoped that y'all were really good friends and competitors.
BG: He and I respected each other. Our biggest joint project was the Mac where Microsoft had more people on the project than Apple did as we wrote a lot of applications. I saw Steve regularly over the years including spending an afternoon with him a few months before he tragically passed away...
I always imagined Bill and Steve getting into fist-fights. It'd be tough to use a Windows Phone and not get into a fight with an Apple supporter.
What do you guys think of Bill Gates? Did anyone read this AMA last week? Are you guys still waiting for a Lloyd Blankfein AMA?