Microsoft, the next IBM

Mark Kuharich (
Mon, 20 Apr 1998 14:33:33 -0700

Kevin Kelly interviewed the management guru, Peter Drucker, in a recent
Wired magazine

Is capitalism changing?
At the height of his fortune, J. P. Morgan was probably worth
one-third of what Bill Gates is worth now, adjusted for inflation. Out
of his own pocket, J. P. Morgan could finance all of America's economic
needs (except residential housing) for four months. Bill Gates's US$36
billion would let him finance America for maybe two days. The rich no
longer matter. They're celebrities, not capitalists anymore. The real
capitalists are the middle-class people who put $25,000 into a mutual
fund - that's many trillions of dollars.

Do you favor antitrust action against Microsoft?
The main mission of American antitrust efforts has always been to
bring a suit when the monopoly is just about over. Historical leaders
like Microsoft are very vulnerable to missing a strategic turn. If
you're that far out and that dominant, you have no friends. You're
exposed. But when you get in trouble, you need friends. Microsoft is in
an exposed position, and it takes just one major mistake, one major
messing up of a major turning point, and then nobody will lift a finger
to help them.

Is Microsoft going to be the next IBM?
The probability is yes. Actually, there is an outsize probability
that Microsoft may be tomorrow's Control Data, which essentially
Thirty years ago, I began to doubt IBM's model, but for the wrong
reasons technologically. I didn't see the PC coming any more than
anybody else. I saw the likelihood of the computer approaching either
the telephone or the TV set or both. Which it didn't do - yet. Instead,
we got the PC