Is Bill Gates returning to Microsoft?
Is pepper spray actually a vegetable?
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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.