In April 1991, I exclusively interviewed Bill Gates in Germany for Forbes. No other news outlet wanted to meet with him because he was just a ‘sneaker-generation nerd’ in the eyes of German journalists, even though he was already worth $1 billion in cash at the time.
I then wrote the most comprehensive, best-researched article about him – ever. During the interview, Bill leaned forward (between his rocking back and forth) multiple times and asked me ‘How did you find this out?’
Then, Apple came (then run by John Scully) and convinced the sales department that it was a good idea to shorten my story from 6 to 2 pages if in return they placed 8 full pages of ads AND made the cover with Bill on it a fold-out that would show Apple computers inside. And they did.
So, not only did Apple butcher my story, they also destroyed the cover of my story.
I was so furious, I waged a year-long battle with Apple, including exposing the secret deal they had at the time with Apple Records (of the Beatles) that would forbid them to enter the music industry (imagine). Apple did try to get me fired two more times.
I also threw all copies of the magazine away and only kept a copy of the story (for some reason).
In hindsight, this sky-rocketed my career. Everyone wanted to ‘work with the guy who fills magazines with ads.’
I met Bill two or three times after that but I was too embarrassed because of the published article. He also advised me to leave writing, go into multimedia, and leave the internet alone because he did not think it was a business model for publishers. Consequently, my company went bust, and we never met again 🙂
Still, I just want him to know that I am so grateful for meeting him. He changed my life, for better AND worse – and made me who I am today. I am still inspired by the many things I learned from him during these brief encounters.
So, Thank you, Bill. I am deeply grateful.
Here is the PDF of the published article in Forbes: