Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Tech-Guru-in-Chief: Bill Gates's Tech Talk at Stanford

Sorry that this video of Microsoft’s Bill Gates speaking at Stanford University is a day late, but here it is below.

(Our lame excuse: After two lovely scoops on Tuesday–Owen Van Natta’s departure from Facebook and Yahoo’s severance plan for all employees–BoomTown took yesterday off to clean AllThingsD.com’s HQ. Really, we did, since it was filthy after a year of neglect, due to the gaping maw of need that is blogging.)

In any case, the hour-long speech–titled “On Software, Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Giving Back”–that took place at Stanford’s Memorial Auditorium on Tuesday afternoon in front of a crowd of students, faculty and press did not have any news to speak of and was very high-concept about the future of tech.

Gates took the show on the road to the University of Texas in Austin yesterday, part of a kind of farewell tour to seven nationally recognized universities.

But, as I watched it, I felt as if the iconic Gates–who will step down this summer from his daily duties at the software giant he co-founded and built into a massive powerhouse–was pretty happy with his new persona of tech-guru-in-chief.

For sure, it is definitely a kinder, gentler Gates, who speaks of ubiquitous touch screens, instant online information globally and a way to map the human brain.

And the students seemed to love it, asking a series of earnest questions of Gates at the end of the speech, most of which were related to his well-known philanthropic efforts and how to do good in the world.

As a human being I was actually touched, although–to be honest–as a reporter I was dying for someone to ask about Microsoft’s aggressive and unsolicited bid for Yahoo, which is vintage Gates of yore. (Only students were supposed to be part of the Q&A, and while BoomTown feels like a 20-year-old, our looks are a little longer in the tooth.)

Here’s the video of various parts of the speech, including a snippet at the start of Gates’s goodbye spoof video featuring Bono (and apologies for it being so, well, jumpy, but BoomTown had to sit behind a very restless photographer who was acting like has was a paparazzo and Gates was Britney Spears):


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik