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Why A Billionaire Turned Down The Opportunity To Buy Microsoft

Billionaire Ross Perot, who turned down buying Microsoft

Bill Gates is synonymous with Microsoft and it's hard to imagine the bespectacled billionaire not being associated with the tech giant.

In 2024, Microsoft has a net worth of about $2.5 trillion and is continuing to pioneer the future of technology.

However, it could have been very different.

Microsoft grew rapidly in the late 70s and 80s, and in 1979 Gates negotiated with the billionaire Ross Perot over the sale of the company.

The incredibly wealthy Texan had invested a lot in tech, but felt the $50 million Gates wanted was too much.

In 1979, $50 million was the equivalent of £205 million now - a tiny snippet of Microsoft's 2022 value.

Speaking in 1992, Perot said he regretted the decision, but felt Gates' asking price was "really way too high."

In an interview for a biography of Gates, he said: "He did give me an opportunity to buy a ringside seat.

"I should've just said, `Now Bill, you set the price, and I'll take it.' "

"I should've just said, `Bill, whatever you think is fair.'"

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"One of the biggest business mistakes I've ever made"

He said he "was absolutely on the right track with what he (Gates) was doing. And we were really impressed with the people he had working with him and his ability to get the people working with him to work to the outer limits of their capability" 

But he conceded he made a big mistake.

He said: "I consider it one of the biggest business mistakes I've ever made.

"My satisfaction wouldn't be in all the money I'd made. It'd be in the day-to-day contact with Bill and the people at Microsoft in watching them do it. That would have been a hell of a seat, right?"

Perot died in 2019 at the age of 89.

Image: Perot Family Archive

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