Bob's Mother Won't Talk to Me

Ten years ago Melinda French Gates was a manager on Microsoft Home products such as Bob, Encarta and Expedia. Some reporters even claim that Bob was her baby.

Because bloggers are being hyped to the gills by the mainstream media, I figured it was a good time to start making interview requests of people who are ordinarily far too important to talk with the likes of me.

Melinda French GatesI began with Melinda Gates, hoping to clarify her role on social interface software like Bob. I even prepared a Mike Wallace question for the end of the interview: Why did you allow Bob to die in 1996 -- didn't you know anyone at Microsoft with enough pull to save the project?

My request was rejected, but I regard the speed of the reply -- under 48 hours -- as a recognition of the importance of the blogosphere.

"Melinda is not able to participate in this particular opportunity," according to a publicist. No reason was given, but I suspect that she may be preoccupied improving the lives of millions of people through charitable giving on a scale unprecedented in human history.


It's not an unprecedented scale. Andrew Carnegie gave away $350 million of his fortune by the time he died in 1919. I can't seem to find a reliable conversion to current dollars, but it is at least as big in relative terms as Gates's giving.

Carnegie's donations were huge: According to an inflation calculator, $350 million in 1919 dollars is equivalent to $4.4 billion today.

However, the Gates Foundation has an endowment of $28.8 billion and has already passed Carnegie, giving grants in excess of $7.7 billion.

I'm far too scarred by my brief foray into Windows to ever forgive Bill Gates, no matter how much good he does. Let's see him get generous with a hair stylist before we assume he's not the antichrist, hmmkay?

She has an oddly vacant look. Are you sure she's not a Stepford wife?

I'm sure Bill could afford one.

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