It's one of the most famous photographs in American business. The ragtag group of bearded longhairs assembled in front of a gray backdrop looks like they might be a lost splinter of the Manson family. In fact, they're Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and the rest of the founding members of Microsoft in 1978, not long before they moved to Seattle and turned the technology world on its head. So what happened to them? Gizmodo found out.
Let's start with the most famous of the bunch.
If you don't know who Bill Gates is, you might as well just stop reading now. Anyway, after making billions at Microsoft, Gates' main objective lately seems to be giving as much of it away as possible and convincing other filthy rich folks to do the same.
Next we've got Paul Allen. He's kind of like Bill Gates, only instead of the endless philanthropy, he's more into buying sports teams like the Seahawks and Portland Trailblazers, cruising around in gigantic yachts, and smashing perfectly good glass guitars that artists make for him.
Now we get into some of the less world-famous folks. Andrea Lewis started as a technical writer for Microsoft before eventually going on to less technical writing, as in journalism and fiction. Fortunately, her Microsoft stock has helped her avoid the poverty-stricken road we all know that leads to, and she's apparently worth about $2 million.
Maria Wood, a bookkeeper, sued MIcrosoft for sexual discrimination only two years after this old photo was taken. She's also married to Bob Wood, another Microsoftie in the picture whom we'll get to in a minute. She's kept to herself for the most part, raising kids and being a normal person.
Jim Lane was a project manager who helped form an early partnership with Intel. He left the company, exhausted, in 1985 and started his own company where people weren't so high-strung.
Steve Wood, as you might have surmised, is the guy who's married to Maria Wood. He also left Microsoft with a bad taste in his mouth. But he ended up working with Paul Allen to start a couple companies of his own, including Wireless Services Corp. It seems to have worked out well, as he's now valued at $15 million.
Gordon Letwin, shortly after the old photo, went on to captain famed pirate ship the Black Pearl. Wait, no. He actually stayed with the company for a long time--until 1993. After that he moved to a ranch in Arizona, and is worth about $20 million.
Marc McDonald worked at Microsoft until 1984, then left and worked for Paul Allen's new company Asymetrix. After that he tried to get away completely by starting his own design company in Seattle called Design Intelligence. But then Microsoft bought that and ended up back where he started.
Bob Wallace wound up doing a bunch of studies on psychadelic drugs. Awesome! Then he founded the software company Quicksoft. In 2000 he died of pneumonia. Not awesome.
Even before Microsoft, Bob O'Rear was a cool guy. He was apparently working at NASA in Houston's mission-control room when we landed on the moon. A mathematician, he wrote DOS code and other smarty-pants stuff before eventually leaving the company in 1983 and moving to a cattle ranch in Texas. He's now valued at a cool $100 million.
Bob Greenberg left Microsoft in 1983 and went on to found a software company . . . Nope! I lied. He actually went on to create the Cabbage Patch Kids and make a fortune there. Now he supposedly works "on a golf course somewhere."
So that's that. Pretty much unbridled success in almost all cases. Go America!