Thursday, December 23, 2021



Bill Gates and Paul Allen originally sold code interpreters to companies like MITS (Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry System).
In 1976, their revenue is $16,000. By 1978, Microsoft hits $1 million in revenue. But they were far from taking over the world. In 1980, IBM asks Gates to build them an operating system for their new personal computers. He had never done this so Gates directs them to his friend Gary Kildall from Digital Research. The IBM-Digital Research meeting goes poorly. The two parties argue over non-disclosure agreements and other legal issues. Eventually, IBM offers Digital Research $250,000 to build the operating system. They refuse. "We will only do royalties."
So IBM returns to Gates to build the operating system. He buys the "Quick and Dirty Operating System" (QDOS) from Seattle Computers for $50,000. And repackages it into the now famous Microsoft DOS.
Gates starts the process of selling IBM the operating system. But here's something that worked in Microsoft's favour.
It would be a non-exclusive royalty deal with IBM. It meant that Microsoft could sell this operating system to any other computer company in the world. Microsoft had 0 leverage on IBM when the deal happened. If IBM wanted an exclusive deal, Gates would have signed it.
This stroke of luck helped Microsoft unlimited distribution through all their PCs.
(Story source:

On second thoughts, one could argue whether it was a stroke of luck or not but what is hard to ague much on is the fact that Microsoft created favorable conditions for itself by hustling enough, by being ready for the opportunities when they appeared.

Can you really influence your luck? Apparently you can.

I found the perspective shared by Vala Afshar in his tweet relevant to this question, included my sketchnote summary.

What's your take on luck & the role it plays in career success ?

My LinkedIn Post:

No comments: