Bill Gates Writes Home

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America’s first nerd has issued his first annual letter since he took up a full-time position at his eponymous foundation. He held a press Q&A this morning (afternoon here on America’s time-shifted eastern coast), and I got a print copy FedExed to me first thing this morning. It’s a classy package: brown and cream, wide margins, bound with stitched thread, encircled by a paper sash (what we call in the print biz a “belly band.”) The design is almost Ivian (as in Jonathan Ive).

The contents are classy too. No surprises — the focus is on childhood diseases, agriculture and education. It’s cogently and clearly argued, with Gates’s trademark attention to hard ugly facts (“I was in India looking at urban toilets …”) and broad systemic solutions, and his disdain for conventional wisdom. There’s even a touch or two of wry humor — he pokes fun at himself for his addiction to figures and charts. Presumably the pre-Davos timing is deliberate.

According to the letter the foundation’s assets shrank by 20% last year, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down. I think I speak for all of us when I say: go, Bill, go.

Man, this guy can organize and execute. Think what he could do if he were running a company. Like that Microsoft outfit. That place is a mess.