There is an interesting review of Bill Gate’s pedictions from his book “The Road Ahead”.
Bill Gates was never very good at seeing the technology future. Frankly, I was not impressed with his understanding of technology. And what I found scary was that he believed that he was a technology visionary. While I meet him in 1980, it was not until 1993 until 1999 that I interacted with him often. He definitely did not have a good sense of the consumer market and was especially poor at understanding networking.
What Microsoft was good at was copying other companies ideas (some would say selling and in some cases that would be true). This pretty much came to a halt with the government investigation of Microsoft for anti trust,
Bill’s greatest error was thinking that people (the government) that were not as smart as he was could control what he did with his company.
In 2000 Bill stepped down as CEO giving that position to Steve Balmer who definitely is not a visionary. Bill must have realized that it was not going to be as much fun anymore. He was so right about that. And to Bill’s great credit, he and his wife Melinda started the Gates foundation. He continued to play a strategy and technology role until her finally left all together in July of 2008.
He did leave behind a cash generating machine which continues to make enormous amounts of money by selling products it either copied or bought and buy successfully locking in customers.
Now, I am not sure there were other CEOs of Bill’s vintage that were better at making prediction about the future. I certainly do not think at Steve Jobs was better. What Steve did better was invent the future which is more important that predicting it.
I wish I had written down my prediction fifteen years ago. I am find them in various speeches, article and interviews and it looks like I was pretty good but probably everyone one that thinks of themselves as some kind of “futurist” has selective memory What I was not good at doing was influencing my former company, Intel, to take advantage of the changes that I correctly saw.
Predicting the future is meaningless if it does not effect change which means influencing the future.
I use to say when I was an executive at Intel, “the future is to important to be left to chance” but I was mostly talking to myself.
Maybe I will write down my predictions for the next 15 years. I will be eighty when I can see how well I did.