Sunday, April 17, 2016

It's Better to Get a Pie in the Face than Sit Quivering on the Sidelines

Excellent history lesson in Business Insider by Matt Weinberger about some of the biggest forecasting errors Bill Gates made in his public pronouncements.

Why am I bringing it to your attention? Too many people are missing out on the fun of being an entrepreneur.  They are frozen in place. Why? For fear their next move in business will be wrong. 

This article demonstrates that even the most successful people make big mistakes. It's how they RECOVER that separates the true champions from the wannabees!  And I think its fair to say, Mr. Gates has demonstrated that he can take a good pie to the face and get right back up! Indeed, the boy turned out real good!

Here's six of the Bill Gates' Greatest Misses!

Viva Mac
1 "The next generation of interesting software will be done on the Macintosh, not the IBM PC," said Bill Gates in a BusinessWeek article in 1984.

At the time, Gates and Apple cofounder Steve Jobs were on good terms. But once Microsoft released Windows for the IBM PC, the relationship fell apart.

Viva IBM OS/2
2 Before Windows became a hit, though, Microsoft teamed up with IBM to create a new operating system called OS/2. "I believe OS/2 is destined to be the most important operating system, and possibly program, of all time," Gates said in 1987.

That didn't work out for IBM, either. Once Windows 3.0 became a smash hit in 1990, Microsoft didn't need IBM anymore and walked away from OS/2. IBM kept OS/2 going for decades, but it officially died in 2006.

My Customers Love Bugs!
3 "There are no significant bugs in our released software that any significant number of users want fixed," Gates said in Focus Magazine in 1995. He went on to say that nobody would ever buy software just to fix bugs.

It was true then and it was true today: There are always software bugs, and people always want them fixed. That goes double for products as popular as Windows and Office. The big change now is that, thanks to the internet, bug fixes get to people faster than ever.

The Internet is Stillborn
4 "I see little commercial potential for the internet for the next 10 years," Gates allegedly said at one Comdex trade event in 1994, as quoted in the 2005 book "Kommunikation erstatter transport."

Indeed, in his 1995 book "The Road Ahead," Gates would make one of his most well-known blunders: He wrote that the internet was a novelty that would eventually make way to something much better. "Today's Internet is not the information highway I imagine, although you can think of it as the beginning of the highway," Gates wrote.

In the mere weeks between finishing the book and it getting to bookstores, Gates realized a little too late that the internet was taking off after all. He issued Microsoft's famous "The Internet Tidal Wave" memo and reoriented the company in that direction. In 1996, he released a revised edition of the book that included more on the internet.

5 Proprietary is the way to go!

"One thing we have got to change in our strategy - allowing Office documents to be rendered very well by other peoples browsers is one of the most destructive things we could do to the company. We have to stop putting any effort into this and make sure that Office documents very well depends on PROPRIETARY IE capabilities," Gates wrote in a memo to Microsoft in 1998.

Gates is a competitive guy. But in the end, Microsoft's reliance on proprietary technology ended up hamstringing the company in the long run. Current CEO Satya Nadella has gone a long way towards opening up the company's tech, to the delight of customers and developers.

6 The End of SPAM

 And in 2004, Gates gave us this doozy in a BBC interview: "[E-mail] spam will be a thing of the past in two years' time."

12 years later, that, uh, didn't happen. Security company Symantec says that spam has hovered around half of all e-mail sent for the last decade.

So entrepreneurs go forward and take a calculated risk. Its hard to imagine your idea could be any further off the mark than those of the  illustrious Mr Gates.
Despite being pied in Brussels in Feb 1998, Bill Gates did good for himself! Able to laugh at his misfortune, Gates told reporters, "The cake didn't even taste good."