Who inspired Bill Gates

Bill Gates - the man who saw the pandemic coming

If there is something that kills millions of people in the future, it is more of a virus than a war - and we are not prepared for it at all. Who is the man who dared to make this prediction five years ago?

The corona pandemic is changing the world. Who could have imagined in the past that one would hardly be able to work or maintain social contacts, that schools and almost all shops would be closed for a long time or that long-term plans would suddenly be wasted? Even the American government has fallen from the clouds. One of them saw it coming and even warned her repeatedly: Bill Gates.

We are not prepared for a pandemic at all

Exactly five years ago, at a high-profile event, the philanthropist described what seems to be going on like a film these days: “If there is something that can kill more than ten million people in the next few decades, then it is very likely more a highly contagious virus than a war, ”he said at the time. And he went one better: “We invested huge amounts of money in nuclear deterrence, but hardly anything in a system that could prevent an epidemic. We are not prepared for it at all. "

Today it shows how right he was about that. How did the billionaire come up with these remarkable statements? In fact, he is considered to be one of the most innovative minds ever. Unlike many others, he can rely on a rather unique combination of experience and knowledge to form opinions when it comes to digital innovation, entrepreneurship and philanthropic activities in public health.

If there is a problem, Gates usually only talks about challenges. As creative as he is, he sees and analyzes them differently than others, and as soon as he has found a solution, he implements his ideas persistently, but sometimes also quite ruthlessly. Outwardly today he appears professional, friendly and diplomatic. It was not always like that.

From «computer nerd» to entrepreneur

In his youth, as a student at the Lakeside School in Seattle, Gates was known as a "computer nerd." When it came down to it, he could program all night long, eating only pizza and Coca-Cola. His structured thinking skills were instrumental in developing a program that enabled the school to set up timetables in the shortest possible time - a process that had previously taken the teaching staff weeks.

At the tender age of 16, his entrepreneurial skills were shown for the first time. He and his schoolmate Paul Allen founded the first company that made them $ 20,000 at the time. A good three years later, they launched Microsoft and then had no time to complete their studies at Harvard University. The founding of the software company 45 years ago was something like the starting signal for the digital revolution.

A contract with the IT giant IBM gave the two young entrepreneurs their big breakthrough. The then manufacturer of mainframes wanted to get into the mass production of personal computers late, but had no software for it. Gates tricked the managers into designing an operating system for them. In reality, he spent little money on a program called QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System), which he slightly modified and out-licensed to IBM. That agreement formed the basis of Bill Gates’s current private fortune of approximately $ 100 billion.

Ultimately, sales of desktop computers went through the roof in the years that followed, and a license fee was charged for each device. For this reason, Microsoft grew as fast as it is today only among young, successful Internet companies.

Gates was a hectic and demanding company executive. Intoxicated and obsessed with success, he thought only of the company day and night - and he expected the same from his employees. At times he even went so far as to remember whose car was in the company's own parking lot and for how long.

Who can already see into the future?

However, the workaholic also had a completely different side. At a young age he began the tradition of having a “thinking week” once a year. Today, the book lover regularly retreats to a simple, secluded hut by the water in order to be able to read undisturbed for several days in a row. At that time, he was researching doctoral theses in his time off, trying to sense future trends instead of driving his Porsche to a beautiful beach.

Obviously, Bill Gates is able to absorb even the most complex information quickly, process it and store it in memory in a structured manner. Companions suspect that he could look around the corner on the basis of the knowledge he gained. Gates' wife Melinda confirms her impression: "His brain works like the main processor of a computer." The two met at Microsoft, married in 1994 and then had three children.

In 2000, Gates resigned as head of Microsoft after underestimating the commercial potential of the Internet age and after provoking an antitrust lawsuit with arrogant clumsiness. He stayed with the company as a technological pioneer until 2008 and as a member of the board of directors until March of this year. However, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation became more and more important in his life. The couple run the billion dollar institution on an equal footing to this day.

The team was originally inspired by a New York Times article entitled “For the developing world, water is still a deadly drink”. Startled by the high child mortality rates in the Third World, the two decided to do something about it. Gates proceeds rationally and soberly like a programmer who develops a software package under limiting conditions and who wants to achieve the greatest possible effect with limited resources.

Massive investment in vaccination programs

The foundation spends between four and five billion dollars every year. It invests in building schools in poor regions, it finances climate-friendly forms of economy in rural areas, and it supports meaningful ideas that take years to implement. One of them is the development of a waterless toilet to improve the precarious sanitary conditions in poor parts of Africa and Asia.

Most of the money, however, is used to track the spread of diseases such as polio, malaria, HIV and tuberculosis using state-of-the-art data analysis methods and to contain them. The foundation has been working on vaccines for a long time as part of the Gavi Alliance in Geneva.

"We can save months, and every month counts." @BillGates and Trevor discuss combating coronavirus tonight at 11 / 10c pic.twitter.com/fYijnZa6tF

- The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) April 3, 2020

In this context, Bill Gates not only acquired the relevant professional competence, but also set out the goal of completely eradicating polio at an early stage. This has only just been missed in the recent past due to unforeseeable circumstances. Today Gates is again on the front line appealing for global cooperation in developing a vaccine against the coronavirus and calling on Americans to stay home.

Trump's missed opportunity

Of course, Bill Gates also met Donald Trump several times. On these occasions, in his missionary zeal, he also asked him about the risks of a pandemic. About two years ago he tried to lure him with the idea of ​​going down in the annals as “the famous” president who initiated the development of a “super flu vaccine” in preparation for a global epidemic. Trump showed superficial interest, but unfortunately he only signed an executive order to set up a working group and neither passed a corresponding law nor provided a budget.