The Forbes list of the world’s richest people is practically a rite of spring around here. Are we home to the richest, second richest or, gasp, third richest person in the world? This year, as billionaires around the world saw their fortunes cut by the global economic downturn, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates lost the least among the top three — $18 billion — and edged back to the top spot on the list with about $40 billion in his money bin. Gates’ friend and partner-in-philanthropy Warren Buffett is No. 2 on the list, with $37 very large. (He had moved to No. 1 in last year’s survey.) Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim Helu, who surpassed Gates as world’s richest in summer 2007 (by a different estimate), is third on the global list with $35 billion. Another software titan, Larry Ellison of Oracle, leaped from 14th in 2008 to 4th, at $22.5 billion.More
From today’s paper, a profile of Kirill Tatarinov, corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft Business Solutions:
Even with somewhere north of $1 billion in annual sales, Microsoft Business Solutions is dwarfed by the enormous Office business that it shares space with in the company’s quarterly reports.
But Kirill Tatarinov, the group’s leader since July 2007, said MBS brings more to the broader Microsoft than revenue from its Dynamics-branded systems, which manage a company’s customer relationships, suppliers, inventory and other business basics.
It provides a “proof point to business decision makers” using the whole set of Microsoft server technologies, Tatarinov said. The Dynamics products “take advantage of all the innovation that’s happening” on Windows Server, Visual Studio, Office and other major products Microsoft sells to businesses.More
DEAN RUTZ / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Phil Palios grew up in Redmond watching Microsoft grow. It’s where he always wanted to work. He was glad to have the opportunity to get a foot in the door as a contractor. But he became disillusioned with the size of the company today and the way it treats its workers, particularly those who are hired through third-party employment agencies. When his employer, Volt, passed on the news Friday that all contractors would have to take a 10 percent pay cut — for him it would mean going from $34.25 an hour to about $30.83 — Palios had had enough.
“I had no intention of accepting a 10 percent pay cut,” Palios said in an interview Monday afternoon at Victor’s Coffee in downtown Redmond, before attending a rare, albeit small, labor protest at Microsoft that evening. “So I viewed it as, I am not going to accept this pay cut. They might let me go sooner. I might get black-listed or something, but I wanted to at least act and make my voice heard and try to unite the workers and have them realize that if they form an alliance — it doesn’t have to be a union, if they just work together — they can have a lot more power and open up communication channels with the company.”More
Steve Jurvetson/flickr An image of Gates at TED, captured by venture capitalist Steve Jurveston with a Blackberry and posted on flickr. I’m trying to verify this with the press office of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, but if the reports streaming in from Twitter are to be believed Bill Gates just released…More
Carol Bartz, Yahoo’s new CEO, was peppered Tuesday with questions about a potential search deal with Microsoft or another go at partnering with AOL-Time Warner. Here are some of her choice exchanges with financial analysts during a conference call after the Internet company reported a loss in the fourth quarter.More
LAS VEGAS — Robbie Bach, president of Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices Division, talked about layoffs (“you won’t hear us comment”), the great 2008 for Xbox and its impact on profitability, Microsoft’s deal with Verizon Wireless (creating a good mobile search experience is the key), where entertainment fits in Microsoft’s mobile strategy and more. Read on for a condensed transcript of my conversation with him Wednesday afternoon.More
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JIM BATES / THE SEATTLE TIMES
David Treadwell, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Live Platform Services, covers up to 12 miles of the distance between his Seattle home and company headquarters in Redmond on foot. He takes the bus for the balance of the commute — typically the span of the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. This unusual run-bus commute is featured in a profile today by Seattle Times reporter Richard Seven.More
Desirai Labrada and John Henry met in December 2004 on Xbox Live. They were playing “Halo 2,” the blockbuster second installment of the game series from Kirkland-based Bungie and Microsoft that helped fuel growth of Microsoft’s video game business. She was in New York, he was in Florida. They logged on daily to play together, blasting away as love blossomed.
Now, they’re planning a “Halo”-themed wedding for a gaming show in January. And their school — Full Sail University, an entertainment-focused institution near Orlando — sent out a press release to announce it. (Engagement photo of Labrada and Henry distributed by Full Sail University.)More
Check out this profile of Qi Lu, the former Yahoo search executive who is taking over a critical group at Microsoft in January, from today’s paper. Also, after the jump, Microsoft has published its own Q&A with Lu, covering his reasons for coming to Microsoft, how Steve Ballmer recruited him, what opportunities he sees for Microsoft in search and more.
If Microsoft has to climb over or through Yahoo to get to Google in the Internet search business, there are few people better positioned than Qi Lu to lead the way.
Named last week as president of Microsoft’s Online Services Group, Lu brings with him practically the entire history of Yahoo’s search efforts.
“Qi was there from the very beginning,” said a former Yahoo colleague who worked closely with him for several years and agreed to speak about Lu and his role at Yahoo only on condition of anonymity.More
Here’s a story from today’s paper with more reaction to the news this week that Microsoft has filled a strategically critical leadership role:
Chinese Americans at Microsoft and in the community cheered the appointment of Qi Lu as president of the company’s Online Services Group, noting the significance of his arrival at the highest ranks of the company.
“When people look at their own career potential in a company, they always look at if there is someone like them in the senior leadership team,” said Weina Wang, chairwoman of Chinese Microsoft Employees (CHIME), the largest company-sponsored diversity group, with 2,500 members. “And I think Lu’s joining Microsoft is definitely a huge encouragement, from a career-development perspective, for all the Chinese and Asian employees.”More