Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Jeff Raikes Would Make a Fine Microsoft CEO (But He’s Not Going to Be One)

Jeff Raikes head shot

Well-liked former top exec at Microsoft. Has been running a high-profile, complex global organization. Trusted adviser to Bill Gates. Suddenly available.

Sounds like a good candidate for CEO of Microsoft? Indeed, Jeff Raikes, who just announced that he will be retiring from his post as CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, would certainly be in the top echelons of that list.

Except not so much, according to many sources close to the search for a next leader for the software giant in the wake of CEO Steve Ballmer’s announcement that he would be stepping down within the next 12 months.

Sources said that Raikes would instead be spending more time in Nebraska, from whence he came, and will be working on his own Seattle-based foundation. The Raikes Foundation is described as a “catalyst for innovative, collaborative and pragmatic solutions to help young people reach their full potential.”

In any case, he deserves kudos for his five years of work at the Gates Foundation, which has been one of the more effective humanitarian organizations in recent years.

Here’s the official announcement of his departure:

Jeff Raikes to Retire as CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Seattle, September 10, 2013 – Jeff Raikes, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today announced his decision to step down from his position in an email and subsequent meeting with employees, accompanied by Bill and Melinda Gates, co-chairs of the foundation.

In his email, he wrote:

When Bill and Melinda approached me about this job in May 2008, we discussed a five-year commitment. I am proud of the work we’ve all done together in the past five years. We are having an impact on people’s lives every single day, and we are set up to keep on having an even bigger impact in the years to come.

Now, I’m looking forward to doing some things I haven’t had time for, including my work at the Raikes Foundation, which is tackling youth and education issues. I have learned so much from Bill, Melinda, our grantees and partners, and all of you about catalytic philanthropy and specific issues like agriculture and education. I have also learned from — and been deeply moved by — the people I’ve met in the field, whether they’re Ethiopian farmers trying to grow enough food to feed their children or a teacher in New Orleans helping students make a better future. These lessons will not only inspire me but also serve me day-to-day, because I will continue to invest my time and energy in these areas.

It has been a privilege to get to do this urgent, important work with you, and it has also been a lot of fun. I’m focused on making sure that the transition to your next leader is as seamless as possible, so that you can continue doing this work with the intellect and passion you bring to it every day.

“The foundation is in the best shape that it’s ever been in thanks to Jeff. He has successfully managed the organization through a period of significant growth, built a phenomenal leadership team, and set us on a great path programmatically. Thanks to Jeff we are at the place now where we will be able to have the impact we want,” said Bill Gates following the announcement.

“Jeff has been a wonderful collaborator. He kept us looking ahead and positioned the foundation, and Bill and me, for long-term success. He always stressed the importance of partnership and continuous learning, which has been invaluable to improving the work we do,” said Melinda Gates.

“Jeff took exactly the right approach to managing the foundation. He encouraged bold thinking and risk taking, and encouraged people to learn not just from what worked, but also what didn’t. It’s what I expected from him and he delivered,” said Warren Buffett, trustee of the foundation.

Raikes will remain in his position until a successor is named.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus