Is Bill Gates returning to Microsoft?
Is pepper spray actually a vegetable?
[ Want to cash in on your IT experiences? InfoWorld is looking for stories of an amazing or amusing IT adventure, lesson learned, or tales from the trenches. Send your story to email@example.com. If we publish it, we'll keep you anonymous and send you a $50 American Express gift cheque. ]
Is there no blog-driven rumor simply too silly to ignore? (Obviously, we know the answer to that last one.)
Citing a "prominent chief executive [who] heard from someone close to Gates," Fortune is reporting that the world's second-richest man "might be considering" coming back to Microsoft to rescue it from the doldrums.
Founders leaving the CEO post only to return in an attempt to restore the company's tarnished glory? It's happened before in the tech world, most famously with Steve Jobs, but also Michael Dell, Google's Larry Page, and Twitter's Jack Dorsey, to name four.
Remember, for years Gates was the world's most famous and successful geek. Now geek billionaires are like Starbucks franchises -- there's one on every other corner and you can hardly tell them apart. You gotta believe that burns Gates just a little.
These rumors have arisen in the past, of course, and each time Gates has pooh-poohed them. Today his chief of staff Larry Cohen issued the standard denial. The reaction in the blogosphere has also been one of "no, please God no, anything but that."
I don't know. I think this move may be more wise than most realize. In fact, I've come up with 10 reasons why Gates should strongly consider returning and why Microsoft should be happy to have him back.
10. Microsoft hasn't successfully copied a good product in years.
9. Because spending every day trying to end world hunger, eradicate polio and malaria, and raise the quality of education is a total bummer. Debating the merits of tiles vs. icons is a much better use of his time.
8. Ever since Jobs's return to Apple in 1997, Gates has always secretly coveted the title of "the comeback kid."
7. Because we're falling further and further behind Brazil, Russia, India, and China in the race for sweater-wearing CEOs.
6. Top Microsoft executives are terrified Steve Ballmer will finally go completely postal and show up to meetings with a vest full of C4 strapped to his chest. Gates is the only person who's ever been able to talk Ballmer down.
5. He can get Jerry Seinfeld to entertain at the annual employee appreciation party. Also: Free churros for everyone.
4. Gates is like Chinese kryptonite to antitrust investigations. He can vow to use his desktop monopoly to crush a competitor, then forget he ever said it 30 minutes later.
3. Because how many times can you play bridge with Warren Buffet before wanting to kick him under the table? Let's face it -- the man cheats.
2. Only Gates has what it takes to finally close that Yahoo acquisition. At this point, Yahoo might actually pay Microsoft to put it out of its misery. That's what we call a win-win situation.
And the No. 1 reason Bill Gates should return to Microsoft:
1. Windows Home Appliance 2012: Toaster Edition. Think about it.
A Gates return is probably about as likely as Herman Cain unsuspending his race for the GOP nomination. Still, it's fun to think about. I certainly miss having Bill Gates to kick around. How about you?
Post your thoughts about the once and future (?) Microsoft CEO below or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article, "Top 10 reasons why Bill Gates should return to Microsoft," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.