BillG on the Daily Show last night


Bill Gates was on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart last night. I often wonder why the staff at the Daily Show doesn’t let guests know about that whole banter-at-the-end-of-the-interview thing. I’d say that about a third of guests (maybe more) rise during the applause, intending to get offstage ASAP. Usually Stewart grabs them by the elbow and leans in, probably saying something like, “dude, don’t walk out until the cameras stop rolling…pretend like I am saying something funny”. He didn’t do that with Bill and I wonder if it has something with Stewart wanting to return to the state where he is the smartest person in the room. Ah, I love Jon, but I’m just saying.  


Seeing execs bolt from an interview or meeting as soon as they are done talking is pretty normal at Microsoft. There are many demands on peoples’ time and sometimes you can just get them in blocks of 20 minutes or so. I imagine that the Vista launch is an exaggerated version of that. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen an exec talk for a bit and then excuse themselves to move on to the next meeting.


I happen to like the fact that BillG is not all media slick. It’s probably part of the same reason why I like the PC in the Apple commercials better than the slacker Mac dude. Yeah, I am sure I am biased. If I wanted to be working in an environment where slick took precedence over substance, then I’d be looking for work elsewhere.  It’s less of a feeling-that-way-because-I-work-at-Microsoft thing than a working-at-Microsoft-because-I-feel-that-way thing.  I like that Bill seems a little uncomfortable under the spotlight.


I did think that Jon Stewart seemed a little uncomfortable asking his questions…like he didn’t have some common ground to discuss. Bill pretty much seemed like Bill; he got a couple of jokes in there. I would have liked to have seen the writers of the show go somewhere else besides the typical “future of computing” line of questioning.

Comments (14)

  1. Jim S says:

    It seems that people have a lot of expectations for the guy when in fact he’s just a nerd with a wallet the size of Delaware. The following of a script points to the existence of PR handlers.

  2. HeatherLeigh says:

    Jon Stewart always has those interview cards.

  3. Christine says:

    Those PC/Apple commercials make me so mad!!!  And the worst part is that people actually fall for that kind of half-arsed marketing.  Grrrr.

    I get the impression Bill G is a nice guy in general.  He’s probably much less stressed now that he’s doing charity stuff, too.

  4. Bad_Brad says:

    The problems with Jon Stewart are:

    1. Often, it’s as if he can’t decide if his show is supposed to be funny or serious, so he ends up trying to be both at the same time, and in so doing, ends up being not that funny but also difficult to take too seriously

    2. He is good at making fun of the Bush Administration (which, granted, is a pretty easy target) but he has really become a one-trick pony.  He doesn’t really have any other tricks up his sleeve so his show ends up being mostly 30 minutes of funnies at the Bush Administration’s expense

  5. HeatherLeigh says:

    Bad_Brad, I can’t disagree with that. I will admit that lately, I have been fast forwarding through parts of the show. I do find it mostly funny though, if not repetitive.

  6. Bad_Brad says:

    Christine – I love the PC / Mac commercials.  It’s as if Apple is parodying its own image as the computer for smarmy twenty-something hipsters who still live in their upper middle class parents’ basement, and at the same time, solidifying that image.

  7. HeatherLeigh says:

    The thing that gets me about those ads is the false information. They are all full of spin in the we-do-this-but-you-don’t stuff andit’s a bunch of erroneous fluff. I’d have to go back and pick out specifics because, though I was ticked about the spin at the time, what I was mostly left with was the unbearable urge to hold down the slacker and shave his head.

  8. tod hilton says:

    re TDS interview: I think that Bill comes across as a pretty genuine guy because of his quirkiness and lack of suave. That’s a good thing.

    re PC/Mac commercials: I used to also get really irritated with the mis-information. The whole virus/security one got me going! Now, I have calmed down a bit and just take them for their entertainment value. The newer one with the peripherals is damn funny. 🙂 I like Bad_Brad’s take on it too, good call.

  9. HeatherLeigh says:

    I like Brad’s take too…I just wonder what the size of the smarmy twenty something market segment (I think of them as the sweaty slackers…but maybe that is just semantics) is (a subset of twenty-somethings…I know many that are neither sweaty nor smarmy). My guess….you know it….3-5%. Yeah, Mac is rocking 3 to 5 percent of the market. Unless some new figures are out. Of course, the ads make it sound like they have much more.

    Seems to me that perhaps Apple was worried about losing part of their sweaty/slacker market to PCs? One thing they did get right is that their segment does watch the Daily Show. But the person that they put on their from the Daily Show is the PC guy. I guess that they were also hoping that they could capture the segment that liked that stupid movie about an alterniative uiniveristy that the slacker dude starred in. Or the TV show Ed. Rewmember that one? I miss Tom Cavanaugh (though preferred Love Monkey to Ed).

    OK, before some Mac person gets mad, we are just talking about "target" segments. People outside of targets buy products all the time (which explains a lot of my college football related purchases); it’s just not a big part of their sales.

  10. If anyone wants some insight into Bill Gates, have a read at

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

    From years of practice, I think I have a bit of insight into the AS mind, and I can sometimes identify people who are on the spectrum.

    If you hire technical people, understanding AS can be a big help because people with AS are often the finest, highest value people you can imagine when a) they can work in an environment supportive of the conditiion, and b) they have had a supportive family and social life.

    Many times they have not had the support needed, and many lives are broken from simple failure to understand what AS is and how to deal with it.

    Also, it runs in families, and occurs much more often in boys.

  11. If anyone wants some insight into Bill Gates, have a read at

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asperger_syndrome

    From years of practice, I think I have a bit of insight into the AS mind, and I can sometimes identify people who are on the spectrum.

    If you hire technical people, understanding AS can be a big help because people with AS are often the finest, highest value people you can imagine when a) they can work in an environment supportive of the conditiion, and b) they have had a supportive family and social life.

    Many times they have not had the support needed, and many lives are broken from simple failure to understand what AS is and how to deal with it.

    Also, it runs in families, and occurs much more often in boys.

  12. Pradeep U.N. says:

    Did u see the follow up to the BillG leaving the Daily Show the next day? They came up with a Windows 95 error message screen saying something to the effect of "error Bill has to leave".

    IMHO the show could have gone even better on entertainment value if Jon Stewart had had "The resident expert" John Hodgman come in and talk to BillG.

    "Hi – I am Bill Gates"

    "Hi … I am a PC"

    would have been classic 🙂

    (ofcourse as we all know John Hodgman – is the "I am a PC" guy of the Mac ads. and he plays the resident expert to a ton of the political satire skits on the Daily Show)

    Now that would have been classic on entertainment value 🙂

  13. Andrew says:

    > Stewart grabs them by the elbow and leans in, probably

    > saying something like, "dude, don’t walk out until the

    > cameras stop rolling…pretend like I am saying something

    > funny". He didn’t do that with Bill

    But most guests don’t stand up until Jon is done plugging whatever book the guest is trying to promote. IIRC, Bill got up as Jon as was doing his "Vista is on the shelves now…" bit which meant he was a couple of steps away before Jon had a change to grab him.

    FWIW I didn’t think they were trying to embarrass Bill, at least it didn’t come across that way to me. I actually love that they don’t tell the guests about the banter thing, you know instantly which guests are familiar with the show and which are there as part of a publicity tour.

  14. HeatherLeigh says:

    I agree…I don’t think it’s intentional. GOod point on the familiarity with the format.