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Collection: Warren Buffett - #204 'How Warren Buffett Became Friends With Bill Gates?'



Good afternoon. My — excuse me — my name is Stewart Hartman from Sioux City, Iowa.

First, I’d like to thank you both for allowing a couple of Berkshire employees to migrate north to Sioux City. I work with Corey Wrenn and Mark Sisley (PH). They’re both great guys. You did a terrific job training them.

Mr. Buffett, you’ve known Bill Gates for several years and probably spent more time with him than any of us in this room. Would you feel —?


That isn’t the case, if Jeff Raikes is here. I don’t know. Is Jeff here?

Anyway, go ahead. But we did have a local fellow who comes from 30 miles from here, Jeff Raikes, who’s a key Microsoft employee. And I think he’s in town this weekend. I thought he was in the meeting.


I didn’t mean to make the broad generalization to be argumentative. (Laughter)


I just didn’t want to think Jeff — I was trying to muscle him out.


Sure, sure. That being said, I guess, here’s a way I’ll rephrase this. Would you feel comfortable sharing with us how your relationship began and how it evolved with Mr. Gates?

And with regard to his spirit and competitive nature, how vigorous do you expect him to defend his company’s position against the government and state’s current antitrust suit?

And then for both of you, Mr. Munger included, what, in your opinion, are the odds that the government and the states will prevail and split his company into pieces?

And then since Mr. Munger mentioned, I guess I’d ask, could we have an update on the company’s silver position and its future as an investment, as well? Thank you for opening that door.


OK, well, he can close them, too. (Laughter)

Yeah, I really don’t feel comfortable speaking for Bill at all in terms of what he’s going to do. In fact, I think they’ve been quite outspoken, he and Steve Ballmer both, about what Microsoft will do.

So I don’t want to try and rephrase that or modify it or do anything else. Because they know what they’re saying when they say it. And I would take them at their word. And I really shouldn’t be adding anything to it.

I met Bill, because a very good friend of mine, Meg Greenfield, was the editorial page editor at the Post. She called me one time, 10 or more years ago. And — she said, “Warren,” — she loved the state of Washington and had grown up out there. So she said, “Can I afford to buy a second home?”

She was living in Washington, D.C. now. And so she says, “Can I afford to buy a second home in Washington?” And I said — and she said, “I’ll send you all my financial information.”

I said, “Meg, you don’t need to.” Anybody that asks me whether they can afford something can afford it. It’s the people that don’t ask me that never can afford it. So I said, “Just go do it.” And, “It’ll make you happy.” And so she did.

And, then a year or two later, she wanted to have me come out and see what she’d done with my mild encouragement. And so I went out there and visited. It was the July 4th weekend in 1991. And they had this parade on this island and everything she wanted me to see. And she had a few other people out, too.

And then, she was a friend of the — of Bill’s parents. And so we went down there, to the Hood Canal, to visit them when I was back there, to meet the parents. And I think Bill didn’t want to come. But Kay Graham was coming. And he wanted to meet her. He didn’t want to meet me.

And, so he came in. And then we hit it off immediately. We had a great time. And, I mean, he had this chimpanzee, to whom he was going to try and explain this technical stuff. But it was a — I was kind of an interesting chimpanzee to him. So, we — and he’s a terrific teacher.

So, we spent a number of hours. And we just plain hit it off. And, I found it very interesting, what he had to say. And, we’ve had a good time good time ever since.

And we play bridge together and golf together. So I can tell you that he’s quite competitive in those games. But I, can’t tell you anything about Microsoft or anything. I don’t know that much about it. And it wouldn’t be right, if I didn’t know anything personal, to be talking about it. Charlie, you know Bill.


Yeah. Well, I don’t want to speak for anybody else, either. I happen to be quite sympathetic to the Microsoft side of the pending antitrust case. But — (Applause)

And regarding silver, all I can say is, so far, it’s been a dull ride. (Laughter)


~ Please visit the site above for full video of Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting.


[YAPSS Takeaway]

Don't speak for anybody else.

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