Bill Gates

popular name of William Henry Gates

Computer software programmer and business pioneer. Born William Henry Gates, III, on October 28, 1955, in Seattle, Washington. The son of a lawyer and a schoolteacher, Gates began to show an interest in computer programming at the age of 13 at the Lakeside School. Two years later, he created a device that could analyze traffic patterns with fellow student Paul Allen.

Gates went to Harvard University in 1973. He had developed his first product while there—a program language for the first microcomputer called BASIC. Gates dropped out of Harvard in his junior year. He wanted to spend his time creating software, not in the classroom. In 1975, he founded Micro-Soft (later changed to Microsoft) with his longtime friend Paul Allen. Along with BASIC, Gates worked on the company's next big product called DOS, which is a basic operating system.

DOS led to the company's first huge success. In 1980, Gates made a deal with International Business Machines (IBM) to create a version of DOS for its line of personal computers. Soon DOS was the main operating system used by computer makers, making Microsoft a huge success and Gates a very wealthy man. The first version of the Windows operating system debuted in 1985 and it eventually became the leading system. By this time, the company had more than 1,000 employees and $200 million in sales.

Gates, an astute businessman, continuously looked for ways to grow his company. Microsoft developed a variety of software applications, ranging from word-processing programs to Internet browsers. His efforts paid off handsomely. Gates has become the world's wealthiest person in the United States with an estimated net worth of $50 billion in 2006.

Some say Gates achieved this level of success through questionable business tactics. He was known as a tough competitor in the business world, and some thought that Microsoft was using its operating system as a way to expand its market share for other applications. For example, the Windows operating system came with the Internet Explorer Web browser, giving Microsoft an advantage over other browser application companies. The U.S. Department of Justice thought that Microsoft may have stepped over the line and sued the company in 1998 for alleged antitrust violations. The court battle went on for years, but eventually a settlement was reached in 2001.

For a man who worked tirelessly for years, Gates began to focus on other aspects of his life beginning in the 1990s. In 1994, he married Melinda French. The couple has three children together. They also established the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which works on global health and education issues. Time magazine named the couple—along with singer Bono—as its Persons of Year in 2005 for their charitable efforts.

Gates announced in 2006 that he would be stepping away from the day-to-day operations of Microsoft to spend more time on the foundation's projects and causes. The world's wealthiest man is putting his money to work to help eradicate disease and improve schools.

© 2006 A&E Television Networks


Paul Allen

Paul Allen Biography (1954-)

Entrepreneur and investor. Born in 1954, in Seattle, Washington. While attending the Lakeside School outside Seattle, 14-year-old Paul Allen met 12-year-old Bill Gates, a fellow student and computer enthusiast. Less than a decade later, in June 1975, Allen and Gates—both college dropouts; Allen from Washington State University—founded Microsoft with the intention of designing software for the new wave of personal computers. By the time Allen arranged for Microsoft to buy an operating system called Q-DOS for $50,000, the company had already supplied software for emerging companies such as Apple and Commodore. Gates and Allen reinvented Q-DOS as MS-DOS and installed it as the operating system for IBM’s PC offering, which dominated the market after its release in 1981.

In 1983, Allen—known as the “idea man” counterpart to Gates’s “man of action”—resigned from Microsoft after being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease, and undergoing several months of radiation treatment. As Microsoft grew and its stock steadily rose, Allen’s share in the company he co-founded made him a billionaire at just over 30 years of age. Meanwhile, Allen began to concentrate on other projects, hoping to find the next big idea lurking somewhere just out of sight. In 1986, he set up a company called Vulcan Ventures in order to research possible investments; to that end, he founded a Silicon Valley think tank in 1992 called Interval Research. Through Interval Research and Vulcan Ventures, Allen began to put his long-term dream of a “wired world”—a society in which virtually everyone is online—into practice.

His investments were diverse: America Online, SureFind (an online classified ads service), Teluscan (an online financial service), Starwave (an online content provider), hardware, software, and wireless communications. From 1994 to 1998, Allen built an infrastructure of well over 30 different companies in pursuit of his “wired world” strategy. With Vulcan’s 1998 purchases of Marcus Cable and more than 90% of Charter Communications, Allen became the owner of the nation’s seventh largest cable company. In 1999, he invested nearly $2 billion in the RCN corporation, bringing his total holdings in the cable and Internet businesses to over $25 billion.

He has also invested a good deal in the production of interactive media and entertainment. In total, Allen has major investments in over 100 "new media" companies. In late 1999, Allen and Vulcan Ventures agreed to fund POP.com, an Internet entertainment company formed as a partnership between two prominent production companies: Imagine Entertainment, founded by director Ron Howard and producer Brian Grazer, and DreamWorks SKG, founded by entertainment giants Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. Allen, already an investor in DreamWorks, reportedly invested $50 billion in the company, which aims to create and distribute short features exclusively on the Internet. POP.com was set to debut in the spring of 2000, but failed to get off the ground. Allen has also invested in Oxygen Media, a highly-touted company co-founded by Oprah Winfrey and dedicated to producing cable and Internet programming for women.

Other personal and philanthropic interests include sports (he owns the NBA’s Portland Trailblazers and the NFL’s Seattle Seahawks) and music. On June 23, 2000, his Experience Music Project (EMP), a $250 million interactive rock & roll museum designed by the architect Frank O. Gehry, will open in Seattle. Allen co-founded EMP with his sister, Jody Allen Patton, who will serve as the museum's executive director. In April 2003, he announced he would be spending $20 million to build the Science Fiction Experience, which will open summer 2004. The museum is billed as "entertaining and thought-provoking exhibits and programs." Allen has also established philanthropic foundations for the causes of medical research, visual and performing arts, community service, and forest preservation.

Allen, with a net worth of around $30 billion, is variably reported to be from the second- to the fourth-richest man in the world (depending on the current value of Microsoft stock). A dedicated Jimi Hendrix enthusiast, Allen plays rhythm guitar in a Seattle band called Grown Men; the band released their first CD in the spring of 2000. Allen lives on Lake Washington’s Mercer Island, near Seattle.

© 2003 A&E Television Networks


Marc Andreessen

Marc Andreessen Biography (1971-)


BORN: July 9, 1971

NATIVE CITY: Cedar Falls, Iowa

EDUCATION: University of Illinois at Champaign/Urbana

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Andreessen speaks so quickly that Netscape executives made him work with a speech coach for a year.

Marc Andreessen, cofounder of Netscape and inventor of the graphical Web browser, got bored with computers before he even made it through high school. Although the tall, blond boy, who grew up in New Lisbon, Wisconsin, taught himself BASIC programming from a library book at age nine, by high school he'd run out of things to do with the his TRS-80, one of the primitive personal computers available in the mid-1980s. At the University of Illinois in Champaign, Andreessen only majored in computer science because he wasn't doing well in electrical engineering. Even with his new major, he frequently skipped class or dozed off, he later claimed.

While working in a physics lab at college, Andreessen felt his old interest in computers rekindled when he noticed scientists sharing their work with other universities via the Internet in the early 1990s. Tim Berners-Lee, aresearcher at the CERN particle physics lab in Geneva, had recently developed the World Wide Web. Andreessen recruited a team of programmers to create a better way to explore the Web. After two months of 80-hour weeks inthe computer lab, living on chocolate chip cookies and milk, Andreessen and his team churned out a graphical browser called Mosaic, which used pictures and mouse clicks to navigate through information. The team gave the Mosaicbrowser away free, and before long, some two million people were using it-enough to catch the attention of recently retired James Clark, founder of Silicon Graphics Inc., who was seeking new challenges.

Clark sent an email to Andreessen soon after he graduated from college, inviting the young man to discuss business possibilities. Although Clark had been interested in pursuing opportunities in the interactive television arena, Andreessen convinced him over a bottle of wine that the Internet was the key to the future.

Together, the two launched a company devoted to the World Wide Web called Mosaic-but changed the name to Netscape when the University of Illinois strenuously objected. To avoid copyright infringement issues, Andreessenrecruited his old pals from college, where some were still working for $6.85 an hour, and they created a new version of the browser from scratch. The browser, given away free with a plea to users to pay for it, caught on in aflash; more importantly, corporations began purchasing Web server software and other tools to publish their own Web sites.

When Netscape went public in August 1995, the 24-year-old programmer found himself worth $56 million on paper. But it wasn't smooth sailing: Microsoft had announced its commitment to the Internet and had started giving its own browser away for free, seriously eroding Netscape's market share in a short period of time. The two companies launched the "browser wars" in the mid-1990s, constantly introducing new versions to woo consumers.

When America On line (AOL) purchased Netscape in 1999, Andreessen, who had often criticized AOL for being technically backward, accepted a job as chief technology officer. He moved across country to the Washington, D.C. area, where he bought a 7,000-square-foot home to share with his three bulldogs. However, after only a few months, Andreessen resigned his position and became a part-time strategic adviser to the company, spending the balance of his time working with other start-up companies.

In October 1999, Andreessen announced the formation of Loudcloud Inc., a company that provides high-performance computing and software services to Internet and e-commerce companies. In addition to his post as chairman of Loudcloud, Andreessen has recently joined the board of directors of the Internet start-up ventures CollabNet, MobShop, CacheFlow, and Octopus.com.


James (Jim)


BORN: January 24, 1943

NATIVE CITY: Jackson, Mississippi

EDUCATION: University of Mississippi, graduated 1965

HOBBIES: Skiing, reading

LITTLE KNOWN FACT: Plans to give away entire personal fortune before he dies, mostly to charities dedicated to housing and education in Mississippi.

James Love Barksdale offers living proof that all Silicon Valley entrepreneurs aren't cocky young upstarts faking their way to success. This consummate Southern gentleman, known for his folksy sayings and his Mississippi drawl, spent decades at the helm of established corporations before becoming president and CEO of Netscape in 1995.

Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Barks dale acquired a strict work ethic from his banker father. One of six brothers, Barksdale vied regularly for the "Boy of the Week" award, a silver dollar his parents bestowed on the son who performed an outstanding good deed that week.

Barksdale distinguished himself as a leader early, when his eighth grade class elected him president. After graduating from the University of Mississippi in 1965, he married his college sweetheart, Sally, and went to work as a sales rep for IBM in Memphis. In 1980, he joined Federal Expressing Memphis, Tennessee, where he became chief information officer in 1979, and executive vice president and chief operating officer in 1983. Under his guidance, the company developed the first computer system capable of tracking millions of packages. In 1992, Barks dale left for a stint as president and COO of Macaw Cellular Communications, a wireless phone company which merged with AT&T Wireless in 1994. Barks dale served as CEO of AT&Tireless until 1995 when he joined Netscape in 1995.

At FedEx, McCaw, and AT&T, Barksdale demonstrated a talent for using innovative technologies to change the way companies and consumers did business. Netscape, offering the chance to develop and market a radically new technology, seemed like a logical next step.

At scrappy young Netscape, Barksdale shed his buttoned-down corporate image to win the devotion of the company's youthful staff, whom he motivated with silly cheers, homespun proverbs, and a strong sense of fair play. Here fused a salary during his first two years at Netscape because he felt the company wasn't performing up to par, but he walked away with $700 million when AOL bought the company in March 1999.

Now head of his own investment firm, The Barksdale Group, he continues to affect the future of the Internet by funding e-commerce ventures. Meanwhile, he's also improving the prospects of the Deep South, through extensive philanthropic efforts in his native state. In February 2000, Barksdale donated $100 million to fund literacy programs in Mississippi.

Recently, Barksdale was named co-chairman of the Internet Policy Institute (IPI), a government organization designed to educate elected officials about Internet technology. He is one of more than a dozen distinguished authors who will draft briefing papers on Internet policy issues ranging from privacy to Internet taxation. In December 2000, the papers will be compiled into a book - Briefing the President: What the Next President of the United States Needs to Know About the Internet and its Trans formative Impact on Society.

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Purpose for Your Marketing

Purpose for Your Marketing Plan by Joel Christopher Remandaban:

Having a purpose is the first step in the marketing process, as stated by Jav Conrad Levinson. Many people have tried to define purpose in its purest from. Some people find their purpose handed over to them in a silver platter. Others had to go through much of the years of their lives just to find out. There are many truths to consider about purpose and its relation to your business.

Your business purpose must be aligned with your personal purpose.

There will be that generic conflict of interest in your business if it is not aligned with your personal purpose. You must first be able to get an idea of what you want to do with you life before you actually get to do something else that will benefit other people. The more linked and consistent they are with each other, the less adjustments and conflicts you will encounter.

Your purpose for your business is what will sustain you.

Your purpose will help you get through the ups and downs of your business. If you have a purpose, you will have a target destination, and all means by which you travel will be in accordance to getting to that purpose you had in mind.

The purpose is very important in the sense that it will give you a clear idea of where you are"

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Telling a Good Story, Customer Service Article - Inc. Article

Telling a Good Story, Customer Service Article: "Column by Michele Miller
Telling a Good Story

You may have the greatest company in the world. But if you don't know how to convey that to customers, you may as well not exist.

Every entrepreneur believes his or her business is remarkable. As I work with clients to uncover and determine brand strategies, they're always very eager to tell me about how special their business is. Most of the time, I reply by saying, 'You're right. You definitely have something unique to offer, and have a good operations system in place to deliver what you promise to customers.'

'Then why,' they ask, 'are we struggling just to stay even, let alone grow?'

'Perhaps,' I respond, 'you're not telling a good enough story.'

When it comes to marketing your business in a powerful and meaningful way, you need to give serious thought to that which makes you stand out in a way no one else can -- your brand story. Consider some of the most successful marketers in the small-business landscape today, and check out the stories they're telling:

The J. Peterman Company. Yes, there really is a J. Peterman, and the reason behind the clothing company's success can be found in a quote from J. Peterman himself. 'People want things that are hard to find. Things that have romance, but"

Columbia Sportswear. In the mid-1970s, Columbia CEO Gert Boyle knew it was time for a change in marketing. "I always thought our advertising was kind of weird, with the 'engineered' and all that. Because the average person doesn't care anything about having something engineered. People care about having it fit well." That was the beginning of Columbia's "Tough Mother" campaign. Customers are convinced of the sturdiness of Columbia clothing, not only because of engineering, but Gert's stories about what she herself puts a piece of clothing through before selling it to the public. And what better guinea pig that her son, Tim? Their most famous ad showed Tim (now the company's CEO) submitting to a run through the car wash to test a Columbia parka, at his mother's behest. Today, Columbia Sportwear is a $1.2 billion company.

One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning. What is the biggest complaint about repair people? You have to wait around for hours and they're always late (that is, if they even show up). One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning took that bad rap and turned it on its ear. They don't market themselves as having "timely service." They actually guarantee "Always On Time or You Don't Pay a Dime." And they mean it. If the repairperson is not there within an hour of your appointed time, you pay nothing. Quite a powerful story, and One Hour can do it, because they have the operations system in place to back up their guarantee. It is now one of the fastest-growing franchises in the United States today.

If you had to tell you story, what would it be? Would it have the right balance of fantasy, whimsy and fact? When creating your story, remember to:

Be authentic. The examples above are success stories because they draw from the "heart" of the company -- J. Peterman's love for storytelling, Gert Boyle's tough nature, and One Hour's commitment to saving the customer time. Anyone can make up a story, but the customer's innate sense of authenticity is what transforms a story into a brand message. Spend a good deal of time looking back at your history and personal values in determining why you're even in the business you're in. What's your passion, and how can you tell customers about it?

Be consistent. It's not enough just to tell a story; you must live it everyday through everything you do. I've written about the fact that every touch point of your business is a marketing opportunity. Columbia Sportswear wouldn't be the success it is today if the company talked about toughness, and then the zippers on their parkas disintegrated after a week. One Hour knew it had to have its operations structure in place to deliver on its promise of timeliness. From message to delivery to customer service, every element of your company has to align with your story.

The companies we call "super brands" use their unique (and sometimes personal) story to connect with customers in a way that makes them feel special; customers feel that they're in-the-know about who the brand is and what it offers. Do your customers really know you? And does the message get reinforced in everything you do? You can tell, and deliver on, a good story, even on the smallest of marketing budgets. It's a remarkable marketing strategy for a remarkable business -- yours.


Michele Miller Bio.

Michele Miller Bio.: "Column by Michele Miller

Michele Miller is a partner in the Wizard of Ads marketing firm, based in Austin. She specializes in behavior-based consumer marketing, and marketing to women, with a client roster that includes such companies as Best Buy and Timberland.

A classical musician by training, she holds degrees in education and business administration. During her 15-year tenure in New York, she founded and served as president of Miller-Carter Associates, a marketing and public-relations firm that served a variety of clients, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and Sirius Satellite Radio.

Michele is the author of The Natural Advantages of Women (Wizard Academy Press), the audio book hailed for its concepts, principles, and new scientific information on how the female brain is “hardwired?? for personal greatness. Her blog on marketing to women has been featured in Seth Godin’s book, Bull Market, was named one of the “Ten Best Blogs for 2005?? by MarketingSherpa.com, and was recently named one of the top marketing industry blogs by Forbes.com.

As a faculty member of the Wizard Academy in Austin, Michele teaches her popular “WonderBranding?? course several times a year. She also maintains a busy schedule as an international speaker on the topics of advertising, business and marketing to"