Bill Gates is a tech icon and the world’s second-wealthiest person. So, it’s hard to imagine the Microsoft co-founder being jealous of anyone.
However, as Gates reveals in a recent interview with the Armchair Expert podcast, the billionaire was envious of his one-time friend and rival Steve Jobs’ legendary charisma. In the interview, which was posted online on Thursday, Gates tells host Dax Shepard that Jobs was a “genius” who had a natural magnetism as a leader that Gates himself wishes he could have copied.
“He was such a wizard at over-motivating people — I was a minor wizard so I couldn’t fall under his spells — but I could see him casting the spells, and then I would look at people and see them mesmerized,” Gates says in the interview.
“I was so jealous.”
“Jobs was a genius,” Gates adds, noting that he was especially amazed at how Jobs — who co-founded Apple in 1976 but was forced out in 1985 after a power struggle with CEO John Sculley — was able to return to Apple in 1997, inspiring the company’s turnaround and a string of hit products that included the iMac, iPod and iPhone.
Gates calls Jobs’ second stint at Apple, which ended with his death from a rare form of pancreatic cancer in 2011, “truly phenomenal.”
“And, there’s no chance in hell it happens without him. I mean, Apple was on its way to die [before Jobs returned],” Gates says in the interview.
He adds: “No one else can do what he did there. I couldn’t have done that [and] I don’t know anyone who could have.”
Gates also discusses some of his own shortcomings in the interview, including the fact that he’s “not that great socially.” It’s a self-criticism that Gates has brought up before in relation to the qualities he envied about his former rival, Apple’s Jobs.
Jobs was “always more of a natural” when it comes to public speaking, as opposed to Gates, who said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal in September 2019 that he’s had to work hard to become a better public speaker throughout his career.
Gates has also said before that Jobs had a way of “casting spells” to motivate his employees — he told CNN the same thing in 2019.
The Microsoft co-founder also says he wishes he had Jobs’ ability to mesmerize audiences so he could generate even more support for the causes he champions through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which works to address a range of global issues, from fighting poverty to researching disease prevention (including donating roughly $300 million to fund the development of a coronavirus vaccine and treatments).
“I wish I could be as magical because I have causes that are in some ways more impactful and I need to make sure they don’t get ignored,” Gates told The Wall Street Journal last year.