Better Know a Genius – Bill Gates, Susan Decker, and John Chambers.

‘Companies’ do not exist. There are legal documents, there are buildings, and most importantly, there are people. Those who are trying to predict the fortunes of corporations should not be working with the impressions a slogan and logo give them, but instead be paying attention to who is making the decisions behind the logo, and the people that influence them. While I’m finishing up one of the best articles I’ve written so far(make sure you’re “subscribed”:http://feeds.feedburner.com/SocialStrategistAtom to receive it!), I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about three people who have already accomplished great things: Bill Gates, Susan Decker, and John Chambers. “

“Pound for pound, he’s the most controversial figure in IT.”:http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2007/06/what_we_think_o.html – Newsweek provides us with a range of perspectives on Bill Gates from people who have known him personally. For people who want to learn more about Microsoft’s upcoming strategies, studying Gates is probably not the most effective use of time, as most of Microsoft’s decisions are now in the hands of Ray Ozzie. The reason why Gates is still a valuable person to watch is because of his shifting focus to his philanthropic foundation.

While philanthropy might not make you think “technology” on first take, the fact remains that first and foremost, Bill Gates is a geek. Technology is helping to provide solutions to many of the world’s oldest problems, and Gates will notice those solutions. Since 1997, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been providing support to libraries to ensure that “if you can get to a public library, you can reach the Internet”. Expanded access to online communication tools is obviously a key step to their evolution. I have no doubt that as the Foundation expands its efforts in developing nations, part of this will be in the form of providing communications systems or aiding those doing so.

The Wikipedia entry on “Bill Gates”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates is also a valuable resource.

“Shes one of the few people around who can successfully manage a group of people who are creative, highly paid, have big egos and have an artists-colony temperament.”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/01/business/yourmoney/01yahoo.html – Though the title of this NY Times article is based on some very bad assumptions, the content pertaining to Susan Decker offers some excellent insight to the woman who will be managing daily operations at Yahoo! while Jerry Yang refocuses the vision. As CFO, Decker brokered some of the key deals that brought Yahoo! the financial success to remain a competitor among Internet giants. One of the most often cited challenges of Yahoo! getting its ‘mojo’ back is making the company attractive to developers and other talent again. Decker’s management will be a key piece of that effort; it will be interesting to see how she affects the people that are creating what we know as “Yahoo!”.

“When he arrived, the San Jose-Calif.-based firm had $70 million in annual sales and 400 employees. By fiscal 2006, Cisco had sales of $29 billion and employed 50,000.”:http://www.investors.com/editorial/IBDArticles.asp?artsec=21&issue=20070627 – Cisco Systems is one of the most interesting companies to watch right now. And John Chambers is the reason why. Here we have a company that manufactures the hardware the Internet is built on. Chances are that on the way from my machine to your machine, this text has passed through hundreds of Cisco products. And now Cisco is branching out from building the platform of the web itself to building services on that platform.

John Chambers is at the head of that effort. Since becoming CEO, Chambers has done more than increase sales and head counts. He’s led a rebranding of Cisco, an acquisition of WebEx(a video conferencing and collaboration company), invested in peer-to-peer networking tech, and spoken about the rise of collaboration technologies bringing telecommunications as a whole into a second era. Though the last to be mentioned in this post, of these three John Chambers is my number one person to watch for the near future.

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