Did you know for a time in 1999 Bill Gates was worth over $100 billion? Of course you did.
We all know Gates is the (second) richest man on earth and who really needs reminding? Perhaps it's time we found out a little more about Gates the human being. What does a man with that much money think? What does he feel? What does he like to drive? What is he hiding?
You might find money the most intriguing thing about Microsoft’s founder, but it’s easy to forget Bill Gates, at the end of the day, is just like anyone else with $80 billion dollars. He enjoys simple pleasures, makes mistakes and works day in, day out for his pay. There are just 9 zeros after everything he does...
We’ve compiled some interesting factoids to help you get a little more acquainted with your friendly neighbourhood tech deity. Think he's just that rich geek who owns Microsoft? Think again.
15 He collects Porsches
Gates has been spotted driving a 2008 Ford Focus, but only on his time off from his Porsche 911 Carrera, Porsche 930 and Porsche 959 Coupe. Funny story; the 959 used to be banned in the US for its unknown crash safety, and Gates’ model sat for a decade at the Port of Seattle once he had it shipped to the US. He didn’t get to drive it until 1999 when President Bill Clinton passed a law exempting certain collectible cars from safety regulations. Knowing Gates, he probably waited a decade, just for appearances, and then made some calls...
14 He makes a lot of wrong predictions
He might be a smarty pants by most standards, but Gates has a history of bold predictions that fall flat on their face. He gets harangued for once claiming that PC users would never need more than 640 kb of memory — he denies ever having said that, now, of course. In 1989 though, even Forbes got him on record that Microsoft will never make a 32-bit operating system - four years before Microsoft put out 32-bit Windows. And then in 2004, Gates assured the world all email would be spam-free by 2006. Thanks for building us up Bill. Let’s just hope your “no poor countries left in 2035” prediction earlier this year goes a little differently.
13 He lives in a theme park
Gates’ mansion, Xanadu 2.0, took seven years and $63 million to build. Its 60-foot swimming pool features an underwater music system and a locker room with four showers and two bathtubs. Somewhere in the stronghold also lies a 2,500 square-foot gym, 1,000 square-foot dining room, twenty-four bathrooms and 23-car garage. Our guess is it tends to operate at around .004% capacity.
12 It's from the future
When guests walk into Xanadu 2.0, they’re given (probably via robot servant) a pin that activates sensors in every room adjusting temperature, music and lighting depending on preferences. Does Gates have his own sensor implanted in his brain, and does it override all the others? You can also view a favourite painting or photograph in an instant via voice request, thanks to an $80,000 network of screens run by $150,000 worth of computer storage devices.
11 He pays $1 million in property taxes a year
Given what we know from facts 12 and 13? Worth it.
10 He’s been arrested… three times
Bill apparently used to get a little too fast and furious in the late 70s with his Porsche out in the desert. Apart from racking up speeding tickets, he first got picked up in 1975 by Albuquerque police for speeding and driving without a license, and then two years later for running a stop sign without a license. Since slowing down, Gates reportedly got arrested again in 1989 in California on suspicion of drunk driving. The charge was later reduced (he has a lot of money).
9 He killed the SAT
Gates graduated from Lakeside School in 1973 with a near-perfect score of 1590 out of 1600 on the SAT. That fall he enrolled in Harvard College and dropped out the next year, proving once again the old adage “school is for fools”.
8 He paid $30 million for a Leonardo da Vinci manuscript
Leonardo da Vinci’s 500 year-old Codex Leicester, which illustrates some of his scientific observations, lies entombed in Xanadu 2.0’s book repository. Gates paid $30.8 million for the manuscript in 1994, citing da Vinci as a major inspiration. Because, art.
7 Bill Gates is the 37th richest country on earth
Thanks to a vibrant tech sector and stable governance since 1975.
6 He’s donated over $28 billion
As of 2007 the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation has given over $28 billion to charity. The foundation’s purported mission is ending world hunger and poverty, advancing technology, and improving the US education system. The couple eventually plan to donate 95 percent of their total fortune. Let’s hold them to it.
5 He used to double date with Steve Jobs
Back in the 80s, the two tech titans could be seen taking their ladies of the moment to restaurants together. We like to think history’s biggest tech rivalry began over some girlfriend envy from the time. Though we must say, those poor ladies probably had an earful listening to them squabble over world domination.
4 He sold his first computer program at 17 for $4,200
His high school paid him $4,200 for a timetabling system. That’s a lot better than modifying the school’s program to schedule all the pretty girls in your classes (he did that too).
3 His charity is actually a little shady
The Bill and Melinda Gates foundation — the richest charity in the world — maintains investments in pharmaceutical patents, tobacco, alcohol, petroleum, GMOs, and various news/media outlets tax free. In 2010, the foundation bought 500,000 shares of famously evil agrochemical giant Monsanto valued around $23.1 million, and a large part of its $3 billion-a-year spending funds “training programs” for journalists. In other words, Gates owns think tanks which “coach” news outlets on how to publish “advocacy and policy” columns that promote his interests in the media. The foundation pays news agencies to run pieces on, for example, the benefits of vaccines and pharmaceuticals, or how GMOs are the benign future of agriculture, and outlets like The Guardian are happy to oblige.
2 He doesn’t answer his phone
That is… until he got a Windows Phone? According to one Microsoft executive, Gates had a reputation for being unreachable during his tenure at Microsoft and often failed to return calls. Rude.
1 He makes the equivalent of $250 every second, $15, 000 every minute, over $20 million every day
So Bill Gates’ mansion cost him around 3 days' pay...