This story was written by Keith Dawson for the Industry Standard's Media Grok email newsletter. It is archived here for informational purposes only because The Standard's site is no more. This material is Copyright 1999-2001 by Standard Media.

Microsoft Would Never Try to Sell Software to CEOs

May 24 2001 07:41 AM PDT

Bill Gates invites top execs to his home for dinner, and the company says it wasn't a sales pitch.

Bill Gates has no trouble getting attention, and when he gathers CEOs to Redmond for Microsoft's annual summit, you can be sure that the story will be everywhere the next morning. If reporters had been invited to the Gates mansion for dinner, as the CEOs were, the story would probably have blanketed the food and entertainment pages as well.

No one quite knew how many CEOs attended. Microsoft's backyard paper, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, reported that the press was kept away from the CEOs. Reuters and the Associated press said about 140 leaders were invited, while the Wall Street Journal guessed about 160. All the reports were based on Gates' keynote speech and on a press conference at which three CEOs shared a stage with Gates (Compaq's Michael Capellas, eBay's Meg Whitman and Citigroup's Sanford Weill). The AP account quoted Gates' caution that the CEOs at his summit were not "super strong" predictors of the economy's future, given that they did not foresee last year's dot-com bomb.

The Journal's Rebecca Buckman noted that Gates' talk plugged several Microsoft technologies and featured its "prominently branded" financial Web site "even though Microsoft officials insisted Mr. Gates' talk wouldn't constitute a sales pitch." Of course not.

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