The trial is not going well for Microsoft. Their lawyers have made amateurish mistakes, the government lawyers haven't and the judge has been replaced by someone likely to rule against them.
If the judgment is for an enormous fine, say a few billion dollars, Gates can simply open his wallet pull out a few one-billion-dollar bills. But the feds are angry and there are rumors that the "Justice" Department is already discussing the best way to carve Microsoft into smaller pieces. If they do, Bill could comply and probably end up making even more money in the long run, but he hates loosing. I'd like to suggest an alternative that will allow Microsoft to stay whole, preserve shareholder value and as an added bonus really piss off the government and a whole lot of self righteous people.
Just pack up the company, all the employees who were willing, all the source code and memos and e-mails and archives and move to another country.
Canada is less than 165 miles away, and would probably be delighted to have Microsoft move in. If that doesn't appeal to Bill (or to the Canadians) there are dozens of countries who would welcome him and his employees. Some would entice him with guarantees of protection from hyperactive government agencies. For the the ultimate guarantee he could buy an entire country.
Some of you are thinking "Yeah, I'd buy a nice tropical island." That's why he's a billionaire and you're not. Moving Microsoft employees to a tropical country would be a disaster. After years in the perpetual overcast of Seattle most of them would stare at the sun in wonder, permanently damaging their eyesight. Then they'd refuse to go back inside. (Quick, what was the last great invention to come out of the tropics?)
Bill will buy a place where the weather encourages people to stay inside. Maybe England. After the purchase he should rename the place. It should be something distinctive, something that will let everyone know who is in charge. "Billville" sounds unsophisticated. I'd suggest "Gatesland." "Nerdvana" would be saved for the inevitable jokes.
A share of Microsoft-USA stock should be redeemable for exactly one share Microsoft-Gatesland, better known as "Microsoft v. 2.0." Stockholders will be given a reasonable time to make the trade. Once the time expires MS 2.0 would leave the country with most of their assets and employees. For those who neglected to trade their shares Bill can leave Microsoft USA in business, giving them the rights to DOS 4.01 and "Bob."
Imagine the outrage and indignation this will cause. Lefties will rant endlessly about corporations being above the law. The far right will insist The Conspiracy was planned back when Bill was a teenager. Talk shows would see a brisk increase in their audience. Columnists would be able to spew forth endless drivel . It would frustrate and infuriate Ralph Nader enough to make his head explode. This alone is reason enough to do it.
After the move state and federal governments will have to import the Microsoft products they've come to depend on, paying a substantial premium for their foolishness. Call it a stupidity tax. Of course, we'll pay extra too, both in higher taxes to cover the increased software expenses and for any Microsoft products we buy.
I never said the plan was flawless.
This article was published in April 1999, in the very first issue of The Hittman Chronicle. On June 2, 2000, a friend sent me this article. Canada is now offering Bill a refuge from the "Justice" Department's nonsense.
I think someone owes me some money.
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