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December 6, 2007

Strong links between entrepreneurs and dyslexia

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 1:53 PM

A new study suggests that a "staggering" number of entrepreneurs in the U.S. identify themselves as dyslexic, according to a story in the International Herald Tribune.

The report said that of the entrepreneurs interviewed, 35 percent said they were dyslexic. The study also concluded that dyslexics were more likely to delegate authority and to excel in oral communication and problem solving. They were also twice as likely to own two or more businesses.

One good example in our own back yard is Craig McCaw, who has a long list of companies he started: Clearwire, Nextel Communications, XO Communications, Teledesic and McCaw Cellular Communications,

Members of his executive teams frequently describe him as being creative, not too wrapped up in the details, and capable of delegating authority.

The article pointed out that the connection between entrepreneurs and dyslexia has been made before. Fortune had a cover story five years ago mentioning McCaw, but also Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways; Charles Schwab, founder of the discount brokerage that bears his name; John Chambers, chief executive of Cisco; and Paul Orfalea, founder of the Kinko's copy chain.

Why is this?

Julie Logan, a professor of entrepreneurship at the Cass Business School in London, who conducted the study, said:

"We found that dyslexics who succeed had overcome an awful lot in their lives by developing compensatory skills. If you tell your friends and acquaintances that you plan to start a business, you'll hear over and over, 'It won't work. It can't be done.' But dyslexics are extraordinarily creative about maneuvering their way around problems."

The study was based on a survey of 139 business owners in a wide range of fields across the U.S.

Logan called the results staggering, especially when juxtaposed with the information that about 10 percent of Americans are believed to have dyslexia.

November 2, 2007

Clinton at Microsoft

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 2:37 PM

Bill Clinton went before a crowd of "several thousand" Microsoft employees in person, and tens of thousands who watched via the company's intranet, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said today in introducing the president to a gaggle of reporters earlier today.

After his remarks to the assembled employees, he took questions and waded into the crowd.

Clinton provided a somewhat unsatisfying response to the biggest question involving his presidency and Microsoft: How does he feel about the outcome of the U.S. antitrust case against Microsoft, initiated during his administration?

"I don't know enough about the outcome to know," Clinton told reporters. "You know, in our administration, we had no contact between the White House and the Justice Department over the enforcement of the law, so, I knew, the first time I heard about the Microsoft case is when I read about it in the paper, literally. I had no knowledge of it.

"And I guess, I'm not dodging, this question. If I knew enough to give you an answer, I would, but, then, since I'm so ignorant about this, there's no point in demonstrating it by giving you an answer that would only show that I don't know what I'm talking about."

Clinton also praised Microsoft for matching employee charitable contributions, which, according to Ballmer reached $72 million this year, up from $63 million last year.

"Companies that can afford to do so should follow this company's lead and match their employees' gifts," Clinton said.

He also thanked Ballmer and Microsoft for the company's support of causes he has championed, including, a United Nations effort to provide an education for 9 million refugee children by 2010.

Echoing themes from his presentation to the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Seattle Thursday night, Clinton also highlighted an effort to better measure improvements made to buildings to reduce their carbon footprint.

"The problem is that, believe it or not, even after all these years of dealing with climate change, there is no commonly accepted clear measurement of the impact of specific actions on the problem," he said. "So what Microsoft is doing for us, with Infosys and [the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives], they're developing the baseline so that we can go into every major building and say, 'OK, here's what your carbon footprint is now and then we'll be able to measure every specific thing we do to say how much it's reducing.'"

Clinton devoted most of his comments to answering attacks on Sen. Hillary Clinton during Wednesday night's Democratic Presidential Debate, particularly an implication that President Clinton had attempted to delay releasing archived records from his administration pertaining to his wife.

"It was breathtakingly misleading," Clinton said of questions put to Sen. Clinton by Tim Russert of NBC's "Meet the Press" during this week's debate.

Bill Clinton's statements at Microsoft today provoked a response from the Republican National Committee, which alleged, in part, that the Clintons continue to distort the facts and hold back documents.

October 10, 2007

Is Google un-American?

Posted by Kristi Heim at 1:09 PM

So most of the searching done on the Internet is not in North America, as pointed out in the previous post. More people in Asia and Europe are searching the Web than people here, and guess what their favorite tool is? Google.

But hey, don't get any wild ideas, you UN-supporting, Rick Steves guidebook-toting left-coasters. Google's main office is on American soil. And now they've taken to dressing up their logo with pictures of a Soviet satellite. Ungrateful commies!

Watch out, Sergey. Once they find out you were born in Moscow, they might just try to send you back.

UPDATE: Well, today the folks at Google have for replaced the "l" with a sketch of the late Luciano Pavarotti, who was born on this day in 1935. Wait, wasn't he Italian?

September 19, 2007

Tim Chen latest Microsoft China executive to leave

Posted by Kristi Heim at 12:26 PM

Tim Chen, Microsoft's top executive in China, jumped ship to head to the National Basketball League's operations in China, the NBA said today.


Tim Chen will be seeing a lot more of Yao Ming.

Before he joined Microsoft, Chen led Motorola's China operations. He's a well known executive in the country and was undoubtedly sought after by many companies.

At Microsoft, Chen helped the company make progress on intellectual property issues in China, including inking partnerships with PC makers and successfully pushing for a law that requires new computers to be sold with authentic preinstalled operating system software.

He also helped host Chinese President Hu Jintao in carefully scripted visits to Microsoft and dinner at Bill Gates' home.

Chen starts with the NBA on Oct. 15, so Microsoft is searching for his replacement and has named Ya-Qin Zhang as acting CEO in the meantime.
Zhang heads the company's R&D group in China.

Chen's departure follows those of Kai-Fu Lee, whose move to Google sparked a lawsuit between Microsoft and the search giant, and Jun Tang, a basketball player himself, who left his job as president of Microsoft China to join online game company Shanda Interactive Entertainment.

This story says Chen's move illustrates Microsoft's difficulty hanging on to executives in the world's fastest growing economy. I'd say it illustrates any multinational company's dilemma with job-hopping executives there, since the number of opportunities far outweighs the number of capable high-level managers in China.

September 18, 2007

Gates Foundation executive is knighted

Posted by Kristi Heim at 12:59 PM

Dr. Tadataka "Tachi" Yamada, president of the global health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, today can add knighthood to his list of achievements.


Tachi Yamada joined the Gates Foundation in 2006.

Yamada received the honor for his work at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, where he was head of research and development from 2000 to 2006. During that time he helped make GSK into an R&D powerhouse, the U.K.'s most innovative company and the commercial leader in researching diseases of the developing world, the U.K. government said in a press release. Yamada earned a B.A. in history from Stanford University, his M.D. from New York University School of Medicine.

The official title "honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE)" is given by the Queen. Foreign citizens are recognized for important contributions to relations between their country and Britain, but only U.K. citizens with knighthood get the title of Sir or Dame. Yamada is an American citizen.

"I am delighted and humbled to receive this great honor," he said in a statement. "The U.K. is at the forefront of scientific innovation, particularly in discovering new medicines and improving global health. It has been my privilege to work with extraordinary British colleagues throughout my career in academia, in industry, and now in the fight against health disparities throughout the world."

Yamada joins a list of American recipients that includes former Presidents George Bush and Ronald Reagan; Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Norman Schwartzkopf; actor Bob Hope; composer/conductor Andre Previn; director Steven Spielberg and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, who was given the honor in 2005.

September 14, 2007

Chinese business women look for local partners

Posted by Kristi Heim at 11:35 AM

When a business group from China visits a business group in Seattle, the odds are you'll see a lot men in dark suits. But earlier this week, an unusual group from China came through town: women entrepreneurs blazing a trail in a country where the odds are not often in their favor.

The visitors included Li Xiao Yan, the young general manager of Beijing Jingcheng Yanda Technology and Trade, a company specializing in energy conservation and management that she founded in Beijing. Li was looking for U.S. partners to provide energy technology products to China. Li's company is already importing energy management products from California. She said that with recent government incentives for technology that helps reduce electricity consumption, the opportunity is huge.

Led by Madam Feng Cui, president of the Chinese Association of Women Entrepreneurs, the eight women attended a reception in the waterfront Medina home of local businesswoman Laurie McDonald Jonsson. It was a reunion for some of the women, who met in China last year during a trip Jonsson organized for Stellar International Networks.

Wistar Kay/Stellar Networks

Li Xiao Yan (middle, in orange scarf) talks with Laurie McDonald Jonsson (in tan suit).

Their American counterparts were local lawyers, doctors, company executives, academics and others interested in making professional connections and friendships in China.

Another visitor, Li Daxiang, chair of Beijing Leitianxiang International Education and Culture Exchange, said she was anxious to meet Americans interested in exchange programs with China. Li said she hoped the problems with Chinese product quality would not put a damper on trade.

Wistar Kay/Stellar Networks

Zhang Zumei, general manager of a Macau investment company Kong Tai Luen Fat, tours the Jonsson house.

All of the entrepreneurs said they hoped that establishing friendships between American and Chinese women would build good will at a time when relations between their two countries are strained.

A few of the Chinese women were visiting the U.S. for the first time. As successful as they have become in the new capitalist China, they were clearly in awe of their surroundings, even without knowing they were just down the street from the richest man in the world. One local guest quipped: "I hope they don't think all Americans have homes like this."

August 29, 2007

Paul Allen's new brain trust

Posted by Kristi Heim at 4:12 PM

Now that the Allen Institute for Brain Science has created a detailed map of the brain, it has been busy mapping its own future.

The institute this week named a new scientific advisory board to help define and advance its scientific agenda. The board members are David Anderson and Christof Koch from CalTech, Thomas Daniel and Phyllis Wise from UW, Catherine Dulac from Harvard, Steven Paul of Lilly Research Labs, Michael Stryker of UC San Francisco, Joseph S. Takahashi from Northwestern University and Marc Tessier-Lavigne from Genentech.


Lab assistants help unlock the mysteries of the mouse brain, genetically similar to the human brain.

Allen provided a $100 million donation of seed money to fund the institute, and it has used $40 million to build the Allen Brain Atlas. Now the institute needs more funding to take on the next challenge. That money could come from federal grants, foundations and other sources, as well as from Allen himself. But the institute is intended to run as a business, says Chief Operating Officer Elaine Jones, so it's looking at new models for future investments in projects that could later be commercialized.

August 17, 2007

Hard to run a company when you're such a celebrity?

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:06 PM

Not so hard, says James Sun, CEO of Zoodango and emerging television personality. Sun may have finished his stint on "The Apprentice" as runner-up, but he's launching several ventures that promise to keep him on air.

Brian Casey

James Sun

He has a Hollywood agent out to make the most of his personality, tech skills and business acumen. Decked out in black Prada shades, intern by his side, Sun turned out for a lunch today with Chinese stars visiting Seattle to promote the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Not everybody can make the transition from reality TV to stardom, he says, "but my agent thinks I can."

The first show he's working on is a techno house program, introducing new kinds of technology and explaining how to set them up at home. Think fun with wireless gadgets and tabletop computers.

The second show is a look at celebrities launching their own businesses. Think Paris Hilton opening a pampered pet store.

Sun says he is also planning to go on a national speaking tour with "Apprentice" winner Stefani Schaeffer. The theme is very anti-Trump: teamwork.

"Stefani and I never backstabbed each other even once," he said.

Even though backstabbing sells on the show, Sun says real business is collaborative.

But with so much going on, how does he even find time to run a company?

"My job is chief evangelist officer," Sun said. Zoodango is getting more users in Los Angeles because he's there so often talking about it.

Besides, his investors have asked him to do a daily video blog about working as a tech CEO. His last blog, a rant about hospital security officers tasering a man holding a baby, was broadcast on television 48 hours after he posted it on YouTube.

"That's the power of the Internet," he said.

August 2, 2007

WSA names new board members

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 1:51 PM

The WSA, the state's technology trade organization, said today that it has named five new members to its board.

They are:

Ron Craswell, engineering director, Google : Craswell, one of the leaders at Google's Kirkland office, oversees a number of Google projects, including parts of Google Maps, Webmaster Tools and Google Pack. He previously was vice president of engineering for Seattle-based M:Metrics.

Carla Stratfold, senior vice president of RealNetwork's program integration office: Stratfold joined RealNetworks in 2001 to work in sales. Before that, she was at Oracle.

Keith Smith, CEO, Zango : Smith, who co-founded Zango in 1999, has worked in technology development, financial services and entrepreneurial concerns.

James Sun, CEO, president and founder, Zoodango : Sun was runner-up on the NBC show "The Apprentice" this year. He started out by running an investment trading company during his college years. Before creating Zoodango, he worked as a management consultant at Deloitte Consulting.

Jennifer Shettleroe, vice president of engineering, Attachmate:
Shettleroe joined Attachmate in 1995, holding key leadership positions in product development, information technology, technical support and corporate training. She has a 20-year career in software development and delivery.

WSA board has 35 members. Along with President and CEO Ken Myer, the board drives the direction of the organization.

June 29, 2007

Front row seat: Scoble blogs from iPhone line

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:22 AM

Short of having a Webcam posted at the door to check out the minute-by-minute action, it might be more fun to visit Robert Scoble blogging from his place in line at Apple's Palo Alto, Calif., store. He was first to queue up there on Thursday morning, and he's been running into interesting people, like Apple's first software developer, Bill Atkinson. And they are apparently enjoying a nice sunny day, too. Scoble says the secret of Jobs' great PR is to keep everything secret, and Microsoft should take a lesson from that.

Hmm... guess there wouldn't be so much to blog about then, would there?

June 11, 2007

No-neck-tie a look for Obama, Ballmer, McNerny

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 3:36 PM

The Wall Street Journal over the weekend took a look at a look in men's fashion being popularized by presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama: Suit and no tie.

It's a fashion trend that can be seen in the c-suite of several large companies, including Microsoft and Boeing. The Journal story, which deems the suit-no-tie look difficult to pull off, calls Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer's look (no tie with a button-down collar as pictured in one example) "slouchy."

"Choose the wrong collar -- button-down instead of spread -- and the resulting casual effect might say middle management, not corner office," the story posits.

Boeing boss Jim McNerny is pictured tie-less, but with a pocket square, which, according to the story, takes the look "a step up."

For the record, a spokeswoman told the Journal that Ballmer usually wears a tie. I took a quick look at photos in our archives. During his recent visit to Asia, Ballmer was in a tie. At Microsoft's CEO Summit in mid-May, he was tie-less (pictured with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, also tie-less, and Azim Premji, chairman of Wipro, who sported an orange tie).

Joe Nicholson/AP Photo

Bezos, Ballmer and Premji.

Ballmer went tie-less again in November when he announced a major open-source deal with Novell.

Ballmer tends to go with a V-neck sweater over a button-down collar, which is a look Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates also favors, and which both men wore at an event celebrating the launch of their biggest product, Windows Vista, in January.


V-necks for Vista launch.

June 5, 2007

Craig McCaw honored by SDForum

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 4:16 PM

SDForum, an emerging technology association in the Silicon Valley, has named Clearwire founder and wireless entrepreneur Craig McCaw as one of the recipients of its 10th annual Visionary Awards.

This year's theme was: "Mobile, Media and Entertainment."

Each year SDForum honors industry leaders who have pioneered innovation and fostered a spirit of entrepreneurship. Former visionaries include Lou Gerstner, Bill Gates, Doug Engelbart, John Chambers, Gordon Moore, Ray Ozzie and Vint Cerf.

In addition to Craig McCaw, three others were named and will be honored during a private ceremony June 20.

The others were:

-- Trip Hawkins, chairman and CEO of Digital Chocolate, which creates mobile phone games and social applications.

-- Michael Moritz, who focuses on software and services investments at Sequoia Capital. Before joining Sequoia in 1986, he worked in a variety of positions at
Time Warner and was a Founder of Technologic Partners.

-- Walt Mossberg, who writes a weekly personal technology column in the Wall Street Journal. He also co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major
high-tech conference that this year brought Bill Gates and Steve Jobs on stage for a joint interview.

The awards ceremony is held at a private home and is sponsored by Deloitte, Microsoft, Nokia, DLA Piper and Nasdaq.

Here's a list of all the former winners.

May 1, 2007

Valleywag is done with Scoble

Posted by Kim Peterson at 10:58 AM

Valleywag declares the era of Robert Scoble to be over.

He used to be an evangelist for Microsoft. He used to be a top blogger. And he used to be relevant. Now he's just a dude who interviews Silicon Valley businesspeople for the PodTech video network. Sadly, he still feels entitled to attention, so he throws a fit when he feels ignored. The result: Robert Scoble is a pretty awful brand.

Valleywag's premise is that former Microsoft employee Scoble tried, and failed, to build a cult of self. I'm not sure that's the case. Scoble's posts appeared to give an uncensored, behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft. He did wonders for the company's image. He still is an interesting and prolific blogger, but when he left Microsoft his blog lost that lift-the-curtain tone.

April 30, 2007

HouseValues founder stepping down

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:19 AM

Seattle Times file

Mark Powell

Mark Powell, the founder of Kirkland-based online real estate company HouseValues, is stepping down as chairman of the board. Powell founded the company in 1999 and was chief executive through mid-2003 and president through January 2004.

He's been chairman since June of 2003.

In a regulatory filing today, the company said Powell told the board last week that he was stepping down as director and chairman on May 31.

"Mr. Powell's decision not to stand for re-election did not result from a disagreement with the company on any matter relating to the company's operations, policies or practices. After more than seven years with HouseValues Mr. Powell has decided to dedicate his full energies to other interests."

The board picked Pete Higgins as its new chairman. Higgins worked at Microsoft from 1983 to 1999 and went on to found Seattle venture capital firm Second Avenue Partners.

April 27, 2007

Renay San Miguel moves to Seattle

Posted by Kim Peterson at 4:59 PM

Renay San Miguel has left his spot on the CNN anchor desk and moved to Seattle to work for public relations firm Weber Shandwick.

San Miguel will provide strategic media advice for clients, including Microsoft and InfoSpace, and will help them figure out how to use blogs, streaming video and podcasts. He starts Tuesday.

April 3, 2007

A cup of Martin Tobias

Posted by Kim Peterson at 3:24 PM

Local tech veteran Martin Tobias, now the chief executive of Seattle biodiesel company Imperium Renewables, gets his Starbucks moment:

Martin Tobias

March 20, 2007

Space food gets Martha Stewart makeover

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:05 AM

Charles Simonyi hasn't even lifted off for his adventure in space yet, but he's already reinventing the crew's menu. Thanks to Martha Stewart, the food is anything but down to earth. How about a little wine-roasted quail and duck breast confit with capers?

Those are just two of the gourmet items that the software engineer is taking to the International Space Station for a special meal hand-picked by his friend, Martha Stewart. He's set to launch April 7 onboard a Russian spacecraft from Kazakhstan.

I guess that means he'll have to give up the local cuisine of smoked horsemeat sausage and fermented mare's milk.

Simonyi wants to share the gourmet meal, prepared by French chef Alain Ducasse's kitchen, with his crew, astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the space station.

Apparently, the freeze dried "meat in white sauce" was no match for Martha's cooking.

Simonyi says: "Although the food is very good there, it is somewhat basic, and after a couple of weeks, everything starts tasting the same. I am certain a little variation will be surely welcome."

The six-course meal features quail, duck, shredded chicken parmentier, apple fondant pieces, rice pudding with candied fruit, and semolina cake with dried apricots.

As the fifth tourist in space, Simonyi just might be the most welcome visitor yet. No doubt the one with the best blog.

March 19, 2007

Kathy Wilcox joins law firm

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 4:42 PM

After more than a decade at the WSA, Kathy Wilcox has joined Davis Wright Tremaine, working with the law firm's business transactions and corporate finance practice group.

"We are delighted to have Kathy join us. An industry and civic leader, Kathy brings to us a wealth of knowledge and expertise in the technology sector ... nationally as well as locally," said new practice group Chair Joseph Weinstein.

Wilcox stepped down from the technology trade association in July at age 61 after serving as president and chief executive for 12 years.

At the time, she said: "This is the best job I've ever had; it has been the most challenging job I've ever had. Now I want to leverage my skills in the broader community."

Today, she said in a press release that Davis Wright Tremaine "is perfectly poised in the Northwest, East Coast and China to serve emerging market and traditional business sector clients particularly well." She added that she is "excited to be a part of their growth."

Wilcox received her law degree cum laude from the University of Puget Sound, and her bachelor of arts in political science from the University of California at Los Angeles. She also received a management certificate from the University of Washington's Executive Business Program.

February 23, 2007

John McCain lands in Boeing territory

Posted by Kristi Heim at 4:52 PM

"We cannot fear this new world ... we should embrace it."

Sen. John McCain made those comments today in reference to the global economy characterized by growing trade with Asia. But he might have been talking about the new world of the Pacific Northwest, in which Boeing is suddenly his ally.

At today's lunch, the man who has long been the leading congressional critic of Boeing mentioned it as a shining example of companies that have achieved success through exports to Asia.

Boeing was one of the event's three major sponsors (with Microsoft and Premera Blue Cross), so you couldn't help but notice the Boeing lunch table front and center and the huge Boeing poster on the wall.

Here are some more excerpts from McCain's speech:

"Wheat farmers in the eastern part of the state, fruit and vegetable growers throughout Washington, manufacturing giants like Boeing, software titans like Microsoft -- all of them benefit from and depend on foreign markets."
"Look at Boeing and their exports for what they've achieved. Free trade and Asia has had such an incredible impact here. Driving this economy here is relations with Asia."

Quite a different tack than when talking about the company in 2004, when McCain recalled spotting a footnote in the federal budget about a deal that smelled rotten.

As The Seattle Times' Alicia Mundy later wrote:

McCain and his two aides have outmaneuvered Air Force brass and Boeing's 35-person Washington lobbying operation in a classic Washington power play and a media blitz worthy of Madison Avenue.
McCain's efforts killed the deal and sparked criminal convictions; spurred the resignations of top Air Force and Boeing officials, including Boeing CEO Phil Condit; and brought to light the biggest Pentagon weapons scandal in 20 years.
"The deal did not pass the sniff test," McCain said. He exploded about it on the floor of the Senate in late 2001. Reluctantly, he agreed to a compromise at the end of 2002."

And more recently McCain has been questioning Boeing's $615 million federal settlement of its procurement scandals, demanding answers from Chief Executive James McNerney.

Funny, that topic didn't come up today.

Hit the slopes and show it off

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 12:41 PM

When the forecast calls for a lot of white powdery stuff to fall from the skies, it's hard not to get a little bit antsy.

For some time, the Washington ski slopes have provided Web cams to visitors of their Web sites so they can check out the snow conditions. But now the Summit at Snoqualmie has an even more high-tech option.

The Summit is providing a site where riders and skiers can post home videos from the slopes. Some of the videos were obviously posted by the Summit and feature music tracks in the background, but others show look like 30 seconds from a cell phone.

I can see how this could really catch on with people vying to show off the best jumps and tricks. After all, typically the only people to catch it are the few taking the lift overhead.

Check out "Four year old Jarod's first time skiing," and "WHOOHOO," in which a snowboarder lands a sweet jump.

February 9, 2007

Bill Gates and Paul Allen converge downtown

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:17 PM

These days Bill Gates and Paul Allen are shaping the landscape of Seattle as much as they've shaped its economy.

With construction noise almost drowning out his words, Bill Gates Sr. spoke at a groundbreaking Thursday for part of the new Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headquarters, a 12-acre site being built directly across the street from Paul Allen's Experience Music Project.

Gates remembered taking his children to the Space Needle for the World's Fair in 1962, calling the area "the heart of the city."

Now three eras converge: the Space Needle of the Boeing-led jet city forming a backdrop behind the glass and steel music museum built with software millions, to the global health and philanthropy powerhouse emerging from the parking lot.

"This spot has been a parking lot as long as I can remember," Mayor Greg Nickels remarked. Now it's being put to "a much higher and better use."

Gates Foundation employees, architects, city officials and others looked down at the site from the Space Needle and celebrated the groundbreaking with glasses of champagne.

Yet all the new development could exacerbate city traffic congestion. So far the Gates Foundation is kicking in onlyabout $1.68 million for traffic improvements.

Nickels said he wants to open up more two-way traffic and streets now cut off by Aurora Avenue. He also envisioned the streetcar set to run from Allen's South Lake Union biotech corridor past the Gates Foundation headquarters and EMP to eventually stretch down to the waterfront.

Spurred on by the big ambitions of Gates and Allen, Nickels can only hope plans to transform the Seattle Center area ultimately fare better than the tunnel option.

January 19, 2007

Bill Gates and Warren Buffett pose with "beautiful Hooters girls"

Posted by Kristi Heim at 4:33 PM

Is this for real? Bill Gates and Warren Buffett posing with a bunch of busty women in tight white tank tops at Hooters? Hooters Restaurant posted this photo on its Web site with a news release proclaiming the world's two richest men can now eat for free at any of the chain's 435 restaurants. Like they really need free food.

Apparently the pair dined at a Kansas City, Kan., Hooters Oct. 20 along with members of Berkshire Hathaway's board of directors. Sorry, I'm just learning about it now thanks to Melissa Allison. Guess I just don't visit the Hooters Web site nearly often enough.

"The visit came at the request of Buffett so the group could pose for a Christmas Card photo with the chain's beautiful Hooters girls," the news release gushed.

You have to wonder who received that card. A great inspiration for all those girls around the world the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is trying to inspire through science and education, perhaps? Nice move. Money < brains

November 7, 2006

Seattle is the new Geneva

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:24 PM

Among the global health organizations converging on Seattle, a U.K.-based group called Riders for Health is in town this week to give a talk at PATH.

Riders for Health at work in improving health-services delivery in Africa.

Paul Allen's Vulcan Productions and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded a TV documentary last year that Riders appeared in called Rx for Survival. Andrea Coleman, a former professional motorcycle racer, started the charity with her husband 10 years ago to improve transportation for delivering health services in Africa.

"If you don't have transportation in Africa, however wonderful the drugs are, they don't get to the people who need them," she said.

Riders raises money through events like the "Highway to Health," a 51-day bike across Australia. The group is looking for partners in Seattle because this area "represents a huge body of belief and people and interest in global health," she said. And a lot of money, too.

November 1, 2006

Citizen of the year

Posted by Kristi Heim at 3:02 PM

Bill Clapp has spent plenty of time on top of the world, but now his mission is to serve those on the bottom. An avid pilot and local business leader, Clapp is co-founder of both Global Partnerships and the Initiative for Global Development.

Betty Udesen / Seattle Times
Bill Clapp is being recognized for his philanthropic work.

He has advocated extending basic financial services to the world's poorest people. Earlier this year, I talked with him about the state of microcredit, or giving small loans to help mostly poor women in developing countries to build businesses.

Clapp, the great-grandson of Weyerhaeuser co-founder Matthew Norton, retired from his family's investment company in 2001 to focus on philanthropy. He mentioned a trip to El Salvador 11 years ago that changed his life. "If you meet the poor in their own homes, you are forever transformed," he said. Seeing the hard work and potential of a poor family to rise above miserable circumstances promotes "a greater understanding of the human spirit," he said. "The truth is they are battling and they are inspiring us every day."

Clapp has obviously inspired a few people, too. Today he is being honored by the World Affairs Council as the 2006 World Citizen for "his commitment to internationalism through his work in the field of alleviating poverty."

October 9, 2006

Post-Woz video footage

Posted by Kim Peterson at 1:10 PM

Steve Wozniak hit town late last week, stopping at RealNetworks, Microsoft and other places to promote his new book, called "I, Woz," and talk about the good ol' pre-iPod days at Apple.

I wasn't able to make it, but was OK with that, having caught up with Wozniak at the University of Washington in April and in San Francisco last month at Apple's iPod announcement event.

Sounds like he got quite the reception at Microsoft, where he received a 15-second standing ovation, according to this blog.

Sam Ramji from Microsoft's Open Source Software Lab recorded an interview he did with Wozniak and posted it here.

September 26, 2006

Head of Boeing IT leaving for Gates Foundation

Posted by Kristi Heim at 2:30 PM

Microsoft isn't the only company with employees eyeing new career opportunities at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dave Fennell

Dave Fennell, vice president for Boeing Information Systems, is about to leave for a new position heading IT systems at the Gates Foundation. Fennell, who has spent the majority of his 29-year career at Boeing, was in charge of creating and maintaining quality assurance systems across the company. At Boeing Commercial, he's served as chief information officer and managed computing support for all of the airplane programs.

The Gates Foundation certainly has the prestige and the pocketbook to attract top talent from many fields. Still it's interesting that an IT whiz like Fennell would find a niche at a charitable foundation. How challenging could it be to network a non-profit after you've managed a fleet of airplanes across the globe?

No doubt having someone like Fennell reflects Bill Gates' own sensibilities and the basic philosophy of using technology to solve the world's problems. It also points to a key role technology could play linking an increasing number of partners and projects around the world as the foundation ramps up.

September 21, 2006

Quoted: H-P's Patricia Dunn

Posted by Kim Peterson at 11:17 AM

"All I will say about the maelstrom is that I look forward eagerly, in the near future, to setting the record straight and going back to leading my life as discretely as possible. And in the meantime, it wouldn't hurt if the Pope continued to make controversial comments to grab the attention of the press."

--Hewlett-Packard chairwoman Patricia Dunn, as she was being inducted Wednesday night into the Hall of Fame of the Bay Area Council, a business group. Reporters, by the way, were banished to the back of the room during her remarks and not allowed to talk to her.

Earlier that day, news broke that H-P considered planting spies in the offices of two news organizations that were covering the company.

H-P has stopped cooperating with the state of California's investigation into the company's questionable surveillance practices, attorney general Bill Lockyer said today. The company is planning to hold its own press conference tomorrow.

September 5, 2006

Report: Hewlett-Packard spied on board's calls

Posted by Kim Peterson at 5:32 PM

A simply bizarre story out of Newsweek: Hewlett-Packard Chairwoman Patricia Dunn hired electronic security experts to spy on the phone conversations of other board members.

Dunn reportedly suspected a director of leaking information to online news site CNet, and snooped into the telephone records of the directors' personal accounts, including their cellphones and home telephones.

Dunn and HP would not comment for the article, which was based on documents the SEC is considering whether to make public.

Tom Perkins, the "Perkins" in Silicon Valley VC heavyweight Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, said he quit the board immediately upon hearing about Dunn's actions. Over the past several months he has battled HP to make public the reasons for his resignation. The person who did leak was outed, the story said, but is unnamed and continues to serve on the board. (Board of directors list here)

Update: Today the Wall Street Journal names George Keyworth as the source of the media leak. Keyworth was a former science adviser to President Ronald Reagan. The board asked Keyworth to resign, the story said, but he refused, saying that decision was up to shareholders. (Link, sub. required).

September 1, 2006

The world's most powerful women

Posted by Kristi Heim at 1:26 PM

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, was ranked 12th on Forbes new list of the 100 most powerful women in the world.

For the list, Forbes looked at public visibility and economic impact, which measures the size of the economic sphere the leader controls. Since the Gates Foundation's economic sphere is about to expand by about $30 billion, so will Melinda Gates' influence. But besides the money, it seems that her ideas about how to approach philanthropy and global health also play a big role.

One interesting phenomenon Forbes noted is that women are gaining power around the world. This year German Chancellor Angela Merkel displaced U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice as the world's most powerful woman. Only 53 of the women on the list were American.

In the past 12 months, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf became president of Liberia, Michelle Bachelet president of Chile and Han Myung-sook South Korea's first female prime minister, the article noted. Meanwhile, the United States has yet to elect a woman president.

While number of high-ranking female officers in the biggest U.S. companies remained essentially flat over the last three years, the number of women running large companies throughout the world climbed to 48, up from 35 last year.

August 30, 2006

Google and Apple in the boardroom

Posted by Kim Peterson at 8:58 AM

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt joins Apple's board. Very interesting.

I wonder how much of this was brought about by Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson, who is also a board member of Google and Apple.

Apple's board also includes the chairman of Intuit, the chief executive of J. Crew and former Vice President Al Gore.

Google and Apple in the boardroom

Posted by Kim Peterson at 8:58 AM

Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt joins Apple's board. Very interesting.

I wonder how much of this was brought about by Genentech CEO Arthur Levinson, who is also a board member of Google and Apple.

Apple's board also includes the chairman of Intuit, the chief executive of J. Crew and former Vice President Al Gore.

August 9, 2006

Kai-Fu Lee watch: Another Google center to open

Posted by Kim Peterson at 5:01 PM

Former Microsoft executive Kai-Fu Lee has been busy at Google this year. Under Lee's watch, Google is planning to open a research center in Shanghai next year. This is in addition to new centers in Beijing and Taipei. Lee is quoted in the Shanghai Daily about the project.

Google also said that by the end of the year it will double the number of sites using its advertising network in China.

July 18, 2006

Sonics sold off; local techies stand to cash in

Posted by Kim Peterson at 3:22 PM

The Sonics and Storm have been sold to an Oklahoma City group for $350 million, which likely means a pretty nice payout for some of the local tech crowd that owned the teams. Click here for the whole list of Sonics team owners.

The techies in the group include:

John Stanton, former chairman of Western Wireless and former CEO of VoiceStream Wireless (now T-Mobile USA)
Theresa Gillespie, Stanton's wife and a former vice-chair of Western Wireless
Peter van Oppen, chief executive of ADIC
W. Russell Daggatt, former Teledesic president
Alan Bender, former Western Wireless and T-Mobile executive and his wife Joyce
Mikal Thomsen, the former president and COO of Western Wireless and wife Lynn
Naveen Jain, chief executive of Intelius
Greg Maffei, former Microsoft executive and chief executive of Liberty Media

Wendy McCaw, newsmaker

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:33 AM

I have to wonder what Craig McCaw must think when he hears about the escapades of his ex-wife, Wendy McCaw, whom he fought in court in 1997 over a fortune estimated at $1.3 billion in the largest divorce case ever in Washington state.

In case you missed it, the New York Times has a fascinating story about a staff revolt at the Santa Barbara News-Press, which Wendy McCaw owns. She bought the paper for $100 million in 2000 with proceeds from the McCaw cellular empire, once the nation's largest cellphone company. Two years later, an arbitrator ordered McCaw to pay her ex-boyfriend about $15 million.

No wonder Santa Barbara is a good setting for soap operas.

July 12, 2006

Helping Microvision board count its coins

Posted by Kristi Heim at 10:51 AM

Brian Turner, chief financial officer of Coinstar, became the newest board member at Microvision, the company said today. Turner, 46, has been at Coinstar since 2003. The Bellevue company makes coin-counting machines. Before that Turner was CFO, treasurer and vice president of operations at RealNetworks. Microvision, which makes light-scanning technologies, has been reshuffling its board this year and bringing in new members from outside the company as part of an effort to turn around its finances and stem losses that have been as high as $7 million a quarter. Last month it closed a public stock offering, raising $23.5 million.

July 11, 2006

Gates honored at Tech Museum

Posted by Kristi Heim at 3:29 PM

Bill Gates was chosen to receive a humanitarian award by The Tech Museum of Innovation in Silicon Valley, writes Therese Poletti.

Microsoft's founder will be given the 2006 James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award for his philanthropy and technology benefiting humanity. The award, named after the former CEO of Applied Materials, honors "an individual or organization whose broad vision and leadership on a global scale are helping society find solutions to some of humanity's greatest challenges," the museum said. A committee chose Gates as this year's honoree a couple months ago. That was before Gates said he would be shifting out of his role at Microsoft in two years to focus on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and before Warren Buffett's decision to donate more than $30 billion of his own fortune to that cause.

A Microsoft spokesman said Gates plans to attend the award ceremony Nov. 15 in San Jose.

June 28, 2006

Microsoft Business Division personnel moves

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 2:42 PM

Microsoft today announced the following changes in its business division:

Microsoft Dynamics CRM development, Line of Business Interoperability and Business Intelligence groups are now under the Office Business Platform group, headed by Kurt DelBene.

Lewis Levin was promoted to corporate vice president of Office Business Application Strategy.

Marketing for Exchange, Unified Communications and Office Business Applications now falls under the leadership of Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of the business division's Product Management group.

The Worldwide Small and Midmarket Solutions and Partners (SMS&P) group, which sells to small and mid-sized businesses, will move to report to Kevin Turner, chief operating officer. Eduardo Rosini was appointed corporate vice president of that group.

Orlando Ayala is joining SMS&P as senior vice president of the Emerging Segments Market Development team, reporting to Turner. This team will look at long-term business opportunities and investments in emerging markets. More information on this effort is due out in the fall.

Allison Watson, part of the SMS&P leadership team, was promoted to corporate vice president and will join Turner's extended leadership team.

June 16, 2006

Bill Gates-Spidey-FDR connection

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 9:59 AM

Our summer intern, Bibeka Shrestha, points out a curious coincidence lurking in some of Bill Gates' comments Thursday. In discussing his decision to transition from business leader to full-time philanthropist, Gates said, "I believe that with great wealth comes great responsibility -- a responsibility to give back to society and to see that those resources are put to work in the best possible way to help those most in need."

It sounds a bit familiar, right? Check the tagline on Spider-Man.

Update: Another Times intern, Zachary Burns, followed the Gates quote and the Spidey tag line back further.

Writes Burns, "Actually the line and Stan Lee (creator of Spider-Man) draw their influence from a speech Franklin Delano Roosevelt was to give before he died. The line is a derivative of the following: 'Today, we have learned in the agony of war that great power involves great responsibility.'"

June 12, 2006

Microvision gets IBM exec on board

Posted by Kristi Heim at 1:59 PM

Microvision snagged a seasoned technology executive from IBM to fill an opening on its board today, announcing new director Jeanette Horan, who heads IBM's Silicon Valley Laboratory and is vice president of Worldwide Information Managment Development.

Horan, a U.K. native, has been at IBM since 1998. Before that she helped develop and market the AltaVista Web search engine at Digital Equipment Corp.

Microvision, which has struggled bring its technology to market and keep afloat financially, has been changing the makeup of its board in an attempt to turn the company around. On April 10, the company was warned it was not in compliance with the Nasdaq rule requiring it to have a majority of independent directors. Horan's appointment could be helpful on both fronts.

June 5, 2006

Tech exec jumps into politics

Posted by Kristi Heim at 6:09 AM

Tim Lee, CEO of Pogo Linux

Tech entrepreneur Tim Lee is making his first run for political office, announcing his campaign today for the Republican nomination to the 45th District seat in the state House.

Lee, founder and chief executive of computer server maker Pogo Linux, started the company in 1999 when he was still a student at UC Berkeley and moved the company to Redmond two years later. Now he hopes to win the seat occupied by Democratic incumbent Larry Springer.

Lee, who describes himself as socially moderate and fiscally conservative, said it was Sen. Bill Finkbeiner who first encouraged him to run for office earlier this year. In the business world, his Linux-based servers present competition for Microsoft's Windows platform. In the political world, he would represent Microsofties living on the Eastside and says solving traffic problems would be a high priority.

Good thing Lee's company is profitable -- in the past this race has proven to be expensive, but the job itself only pays about $34,000.

May 8, 2006

Pay-what-you-will model nets entrepreneur award

Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 1:50 PM

Brian Livingston, Seattle-based editor of the Windows Secrets newsletter and author of numerous computer books, won an award for the unusual way he charges subscribers to his twice-monthly e-mails.

Pay what ever you want, Livingston tells subscribers, and 17,000 out of approximately 140,000 have done so. Their contributions range from $5 to $100 apiece.

That model caught the attention of MarketingSherpa, a research firm that named Livingston "Entrepreneur of the Year" at its New York City conference on Internet content subscription sales today.

In a news release announcing the award, Livingston said the contributions from more affluent readers of his newsletter -- described as a survival guide for Windows users -- "subsidize those who may be on unemployment but still need to keep up their Windows skills."

May 3, 2006

SAS: The world's richest man

Posted by Kim Peterson at 4:25 PM

Bill Gates doesn't really want to be on the top of one particular list.

When Donny Deutsch asked him about his financial status, Gates said he wished he wasn't the world's richest man.

"There's nothing good that comes out of that," he said.

When Deutsch suggested, however, that Gates wouldn't want to be No. 2 on the list, Gates disagreed.

"No," he said. "You get more visibility as a result of that."

At the end of the interview, Deutsch asked why Gates wouldn't consider running for president.

"For every reason," he said. "I wouldn't like it, I wouldn't be elected, I'm better at what i'm doing. That's a very unusual job, and the work I can do, whether it's time spent on Microsoft or the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation, all my learnings have built up to be able to operate in that way and so I'm going to stick to what I know."

Gates also said that he doesn't have an iPod and that he doesn't carry a wallet around that often. I suppose that's how someone stays on top of the richest man list.

May 2, 2006

Amazonian gift

Posted by Monica Soto at 5:14 PM founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos donated nearly 30,000 shares to one or more charities, according to a new regulatory filing.

At yesterday's closing price of $34.38, the stock is worth north of $1 million. No word on who got the loot.

Our vote? Trekkies Anonymous.

April 20, 2006


Posted by Benjamin J. Romano at 2:50 PM

A quick introduction: My name is Benjamin Romano and I'm stepping into the large shoes Brier Dudley has left on the Microsoft beat. (Brier will still be contributing his wit and wisdom in a column and a blog on all things technology, with an emphasis on Microsoft.)

I've been covering biotechnology for the business section at The Seattle Times since last fall. Before that, I covered agriculture and business in Central Washington, and fishing and timber issues in Oregon. I've looked closely at several elements of the Pacific Northwest economy and I'm eager to learn and report about one of the region's and world's iconic companies.

Give me a call. I'd be happy to chat about Microsoft and technology in general. (206) 464-2149.

April 14, 2006

Steve Wozniak in Seattle

Posted by Kim Peterson at 10:42 AM

I'm getting several calls and e-mails from readers asking if Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak will be making any speeches or public appearances in Seattle today. Turns out he's on the road to Portland with his god-daughter. They're going to see "Larry the Cable Guy," a comedy show. From there he'll be flying home.

If you were at the University Village Apple store Thursday, you might have seen him. His god-daughter, University of Washington student Julie Roebuck, used to work there and wanted to introduce Woz to her co-workers. I would have loved to see that but was in the office writing this story and this Q&A on Wozniak, which ran in today's paper.

Some UW students stayed after Wozniak's speech Thursday to talk to him. They admired his watch, a large contraption on his wrist that contained vacuum tube parts. When he rotated his wrist a certain way, digital numbers would glow and show the time.

"That's tight, man," said one student.

"I know," Wozniak said.

Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee

Angel Gonzalez
Angel Gonzalez

Kristi Heim
Kristi Heim

Benjamin J. Romano
Benjamin J. Romano

Mark Watanabe



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