Tuesday, May 8, 2007

If Bill Gates cares about you, you've made it

One sign of how dependent technology companies have become on advertising revenue can be summed up like this: Bill Gates was the opening speaker at Microsoft's annual Strategic Account Summit this year, a meeting of agency types and clients, which is taking place out in Redmond this week. (A transcript of his remarks can be had here.) Back in 2003, I was the only reporter invited (long story), and at the tail end, just before everyone headed to the airport, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer gave a few closing remarks. While that's all well and good, the person everyone still wants to see is Gates—even if he is spending a healthy amount of his time giving away his money. At the event four years ago, after a series of breakout sessions, word got around that one of the groups, in search of its meeting room in an adjoining building, actually bumped into B-b-b-bill, and those people became the envy of the conference, with the possible exception of another group, which found a way to sneak into a room where Gates actually was speaking. Well, advertisers, your moment has arrived. As for what Gates said, he predicted that newspapers would all be online in five years. Good thing he's not at this conference.

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