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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

October 22, 2008 at 3:13 PM

Bill Gates names his new digs

Stop the presses: Bill Gates is setting up his new Eastside office, as planned.

While other billionaires choose yachts or golf carts for their retirement perch, Gates’ new aerie is an office at Kirkland’s Carillon Point, where his money managers are located.

It sounds like an intellectual romper room — a spot for Gates to extend his annual “think week” contemplation sessions and hang out with his smart friends, while staying connected to Microsoft and increasing his involvement in the Gates Foundation.

Gates described the place in an interview that appeared in the June edition of Fortune magazine. He said the new office, midway between Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, will become his “center of gravity.”

In formalizing this operation, a Gates lawyer on Sept. 29 sought trademark registration for the name assigned to its corporate entity, “BGC3.”

The application says BGC3 will be engaged in “think tank services,” but I’m hearing it’s not a new company.

A text message describing Bill Gates center of gravity No. 3?

An excerpt from its June description in Fortune:

Think of his third office, the one equidistant from Microsoft and the foundation, as the billionaire-adult equivalent of his own room. It’s a place for him to spend time exploring his own ideas, and occasionally trying to find an appropriate entity to pursue them, whether it be Microsoft R&D or someone at the foundation or one of the foundation’s many corporate and nonprofit partners. He’ll focus on ideas related to his philanthropy, but he also will spend a lot of time with the staff of Ph.D.s and inventors at Intellectual Ventures (IV for short), Nathan Myhrvold’s Seattle-based skunkworks for discovering patentable new technologies. Previously IV hosted brainstorming sessions for foundation scientists, and Gates is an informal member of a group of IV partners and investors with more general interests that meets regularly. He plans to participate even more frequently after July 1.

“I’m not going to create a company,” Gates vows. “The foundation is the top priority. But there are some other things that I might help along. The scientific brainstorming with Nathan’s group has led to a new nuclear energy startup, and I’m a funder and advisor to that thing. It won’t be a huge amount of time, but the truth is, cheap energy that’s environmentally friendly is a breakthrough that is more important for the poor than the rich. And the poor need fertilizer, more reliable seeds, and better agriculture too. They can’t cut back their eating, because that’s called starvation. So I’m investing in that.”

BGC3 will also be the command center for Gates and his staff, including general manager Larry Cohen, a former Microsoft communications director.

I wonder if BGC3 will also employ C-3PO and R2D2.



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