Like I mentioned yesterday, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with Bill Gates today. It was at a private function on Microsoft’s campus. Only a select range of influencers were invited to come:

  • Evan Williams (Obvious)
  • Jeremy Zawodny (Yahoo)
  • Kelly Goto (Goto Media)
  • Liz Gannes (GigaOm)
  • Mike Arrington (TechCrunch)
  • Molly Holzschlag (
  • Niall Kennedy (
  • Rael Dornfest (Values of N)
  • Ryan Freitas (Adaptive Path)
  • Ryan Stewart (Digital Back Country)
  • Shaun Inman (
  • Steve Rubel (Micropersuasion)
  • Tantek Celik (Technorati)

My good friend, and Gnomedex 5.0 alumnus, Frank Barnako weighed in on his CBS Marketwatch blog (as an event outsider, looking in):

The fact that these savvy folks, like Pirillo and Zawodny and Blogger-founder Evan Williams, are there suggests that Microsoft wants to know what they know about what’s coming next in content. These folks talk with a lot of other bloggers and podcasters and could be a great help to Microsoft in anticipating the kinds of things content producers might want to be doing, like easily including video in blogs or Web links in podcast files.

Indeed, we were there to hear more about the direction Microsoft is taking with their Mix 06 conference. Steve liveblogged it. I’m the one who asked Mr. Gates what he wanted to be when he grew up, and as transcribed by Mr. Rubel, Bill responded:

A lawyer. I admired the work that (my father) did. When I got enthralled with math, I thought I would go into mathematics. Then computers came along. I became confused but eventually, it all became crystal clear in my freshman year. I also thought about being an economist.

It was surreal to see Bill sitting directly across the table from me – less than five feet. Moreover, I’m pretty sure he knew who I was – which is precisely what I promised myself would “be” after the first time we were in close proximity to one another (that the next time, he’d know who I was). His answer could have been anything, as my question was relatively inconsequential. It’s that I was able to ask it, and then (not long after) have a group photo taken with him. He sat directly next to me and I told him that we used UMPCs at my wedding this weekend. He seemed impressed.

I’m sure our paths will cross again one day. I doubt Bill Gates is going to call me up, personally – but you never really know. Until then, I’ll remain a regular ol’ geek who no longer lives in Iowa (and I vehemently disapprove of my former state’s class-action lawsuit against Microsoft).

[tags]bill gates, microsoft, geek[/tags]