Bill Gates says his 'greatest mistake ever' was failing to create Android at Microsoft

Bill Gates has said that his biggest mistake at Microsoft was allowing Google to develop Android — and it cost the company $400 billion.

"The greatest mistake ever is the whatever mismanagement I engaged in that caused Microsoft not to be what Android is, [meaning] Android is the standard non-Apple phone form platform. That was a natural thing for Microsoft to win," Gates said last week.

The billionaire made the comments in a conversation with Eventbrite co-founder and CEO Julia Hartz a at an event hosted by venture capital firm Village Global. The news was first reported by TechCrunch over the weekend.

Inside the marriage of Bill and Melinda Gates
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Inside the marriage of Bill and Melinda Gates

At the picnic, Melinda gave Bill her number and told him to call her closer to the day he had in mind.

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Instead, he called her up later that night with a wry question: "Is this spontaneous enough for you?" Turns out, it was.

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Melinda and Bill dated for seven years before they wed. Melinda told Fortune her mom didn't think that seeing the CEO was a good idea in the beginning.

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But the couple didn't listen. Business Insider's Tanza Loudenback reported they "kept a low profile at work and asked colleagues and family members to respect their privacy."

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"When I look back, Bill was the same kind of guy I was hanging out with in college," Melinda told Fortune. "I had a lot of respect for them, and they had respect for me."

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"I was definitely attracted to his brilliant mind, but beyond that, his curiosity," she told Fortune. "And he has a huge sense of fun. I love that wry side of him."

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After they were engaged, Bill and Melinda traveled to Africa in late 1993. During the trip, they encountered people in extreme poverty. On a walk on a beach in Zanzibar, Melinda told TED in an interview, the couple "started to talk about" how they might use their fortune to help others.

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The couple married in 1994 in what was then Manele Bay Hotel in Hawaii. They tied the knot by the "par-3 12th hole" on the property's golf course, according to Forbes. The event reportedly cost $1 million.

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To keep the wedding private, Bill booked all the rooms in the hotel, along with all of the helicopters on the island of Maui to "prevent unwanted visitors from flying over," Forbes reported.

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(Photo credit should read Ronaldo Schemidt/AFP/Getty Images)

The next year, the couple's lavish home — nicknamed "Xanadu 2.0" — was completed in Medina, Washington. The mansion's estimated worth was $124 million in 2016.

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The couple has raised two daughters and a son — and didn't let any of them own a cellphone until they were 14, according to The Mirror.

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(Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation)

Bill told Rolling Stone the children were raised Catholic. "We've raised our kids in a religious way," he said. "They've gone to the Catholic church that Melinda goes to and I participate in."

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Bill and Melinda would read books from a range of genres to their kids as they grew up, from "Guess How Much I Love You" to "Fahrenheit 451."

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Each of the Gates' kids will inherit about $10 million of their parents' $89.6 billion fortune, while much of the rest will go to charitable causes. "We want to strike a balance where they have the freedom to do anything but not a lot of money showered on them so they could go out and do nothing," Bill told TED.

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Melinda has said her relationship with her husband has changed over time. "We've had to change to really be coequals," she said. "It's not something that immediately happens overnight, but we're both committed to it."

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(REUTERS/J.P. Moczulski)

Warren Buffett, who is close with the Gates, told Fortune that Bill was "smart as hell, obviously," but that "in terms of seeing the whole picture," Melinda was smarter.

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Bill has said he and Melinda work as partners at the foundation. They both received Presidential Medals of Freedom in 2016 from President Barack Obama for their efforts.

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"Melinda and I believe that everyone deserves the chance for a healthy and productive life — and so with the help of our amazing partners, we are working to find innovative ways to help people in need all over the world," Bill wrote during one of his Reddit AMAs.

Source: Reddit

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"It really is winner take all," he said. "If you're there with half as many apps or 90% as many apps, you're on your way to complete doom. There's room for exactly one non-Apple operating system, and what's that worth? £315 billion ($400bn) that would be transferred from company G [Google] to company M [Microsoft]."

Read more:Microsoft's Windows Phone platform is dead

Microsoft's Windows-powered phones failed to make a significant impact on the smartphone market and enjoy the same success as Android or iPhone. This was partly because of the problems it had with its app store, specifically, retaining apps once they had been developed. Its Windows phones launched in 2010 but were phased out by 2017.

Gates, who remains a board member at Microsoft, added: "We are a leading company. If we got that one right, we would be the company. But oh well." Microsoft is currently the most valuable company in the world, with a market cap of £825bn ($1.05 trillion), but it vies for the top spot with Apple and Amazon.

You can watch the full interview with Bill Gates here:

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