Gates: I would not have paid $19bn to buy WhatsApp
Half of Silicon Valley start-ups are "silly" and the price paid by Facebook for WhatsApp was "higher than I would have expected", Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has said.
"Innovation in California is at its absolute peak right now. Sure, half of the companies are silly, and you know two-thirds of them are going to go bankrupt, but the dozen or so ideas that emerge are going to be really important," he told 'Rolling Stone' magazine.
Mr Gates, who has a fortune of more than $76bn (€55bn), recently returned to Microsoft as a "technology adviser", where he expects to spend a third of his time, with the rest devoted to his charity work with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which he runs with his wife.
"Satya (Nadella, Microsoft chief executive) has asked me to review product plans and help make some decisions and pick some new directions," he said.
Commenting on Facebook's recent $19bn acquisition of WhatsApp, Mr Gates admitted that Microsoft "would have been willing to buy it" but not at the price paid by Mark Zuckerberg.
"I think his aggressiveness is wise – although the price is higher than I would have expected. It shows that user bases are extremely valuable," he said.
"We're both Harvard dropouts – we both had strong, stubborn views of what software could do. I give him more credit for shaping the user interface of his product. He's more of a product manager than I was. I'm more of a coder, down in the bowels and the architecture, than he is.
"But, you know, that's not that major of a difference. I start with architecture, and Mark starts with products, and Steve Jobs started with aesthetics."
He added that one of the biggest surprises about how technology has advanced is that there are "less robots than I would have guessed".