“Guys like us, we avoid monopolies”

Let’s file this one under the heading “Unintentional hilarity”: According to Microsoft supremo Bill Gates — speaking at the All Things D conference in Carlsbad, Calif. — he and Steve Ballmer hate monopolies and really try to avoid them. As I said to John Paczkowski of All Things D when he sent me an email about the quote, this reminds me of when my youngest daughter was learning to ride a bicycle: there’s a photo I have of her avoiding her way right into the side of a car. She was focusing so intently on avoiding the car, of course, that she steered straight at it. Is that what happened to Bill and Steve? Who knows. What we do know is that Bill and Steve really like to compete:

Ballmer: To accelerate scale it made sense for us to consider a Yahoo acquisition. The truth of the matter is, if nobody else gets scale except the current leader what happens? … Some day all the ads for the Wall Street Journal Online might be sold by one guy and he’ll tell you exactly how much your editorial is worth.

Kara: Yeah, like a monopoly. Interesting.

Walt: That’s a great point. That’s exactly the sort of argument that was made against Microsoft.

Ballmer: Am I saying there’s something wrong? I’m just saying we are guys who will compete. That’s all I’m saying.

Gates: Guys like us avoid monopolies. We like to compete.

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About mathewi

I'm the chief digital writer at the Columbia Journalism Review in New York, and a former writer for Fortune magazine and the Globe and Mail newspaper.

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