Bill Gates Reveals His “Greatest Mistake Ever.” It Cost Him $400 Billion.

Even someone worth $100 billion makes bad business decisions

Bill Gates Reveals His Greatest Microsoft Mistake Ever
In a recent interview, Bill Gates revealed the biggest mistake of his career.
Lintao Zhang/Getty

Bill Gates is one of three people in the world worth over $100 billion. So you could say that, in terms of his financial success, any mistakes he’s made have been negligible. But Gates himself would beg to differ.

Last week, the Microsoft founder revealed his “greatest mistake ever,” one that cost him $400 billion. 

The acknowledgment came during an hour-long interview at Village Global, an early stage venture capital firm, as Fast Company writes. Gates tells the story like this: 

“In the software world, particularly for platforms, these are winner-take-all markets. So the greatest mistake ever is whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is. That is, Android is the standard non-Apple phone platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win … There’s room for exactly one non-Apple operating system and what’s that worth? $400 billion that would be transferred from company G to company M.”

In other words, his “greatest mistake” is not beating out Google’s Android with his Windows Mobile smartphone operating system for the one space left empty to compete with Apple. But Gates knows when he’s been beaten; Windows 10 Mobile will cease updates on December 10, 2019 and users are encouraged to make the switch to either Apple or Android. 

So does this keep Gates up at night tossing and turning? Is he like the rest of us, haunted by his failings in business? Not likely. While he goes on to admit, as Fast Company cites, that Microsoft “would be the leading company” if their operating system succeeded, he has two words that sum up his feelings: “Oh well.” 

Even if you don’t work in the same field, you can still learn from Gates in this instance. Instead of dwelling on past mistakes, learn from them, and instead of beating yourself up, start using the phrases like “oh well.” 

If you want to hear from Gates himself, watch the full interview below:

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