Bill Gates reveals what he envied most about Steve Jobs

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Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, rivals and friends.
Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, rivals and friends.
Photo: AllThingsD

Tim Cook isn’t the only tech icon with something big coming out on September 20.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is the subject of a new Netflix documentary series that premieres on iPhone 11 launch day. Inside Bill’s Brain connects chapters of Gates’ personal life with his philanthropic work. Gates does more than other tech luminaries to make the world a better place. Still, he says there’s one skill Steve Jobs possessed that would prove immensely helpful for his current work.

Sitting down with The Wall Street Journal to discuss the three-part documentary, Gates admitted he knows he’s not a great public speaker. He credits himself for getting better at articulating how to solve big problems. However, nobody could hold a room’s attention like Jobs. Even if the subject matter was something as boring as sanitary toilets.

“Steve Jobs was always more of a natural at that,” Gates told the Journal. “He could talk about what, in the case of NeXT Computer [his follow-up after being ousted from Apple], was not that good of a machine, yet mesmerize people to death if they happened to be in the auditorium. I wish I could be as magical because I have causes that are in some ways more impactful and I need to make sure they don’t get ignored.”

Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

Despite being bitter rivals during their heyday atop the tech world, Jobs and Gates eventually became friends closer to the Apple co-founder’s death. The pair did an interesting joint interview in the early 1990s, in which they took shots at each other. They also made an iconic appearance together at the All Things Digital conference in 2007.

While Jobs stayed focused on Apple until the end, Gates hasn’t contributed much to Microsoft in nearly two decades. Instead, focuses on his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The nonprofit organization uses its $50 billion war chest on projects like eradicating polio, providing water sanitation to poor areas, and increasing sustainable agriculture.