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It's hard to come up with a good conditional probability, but just looking at the population ratios, the odds are close to the same: somewhere around 1 in 300 American households have net worth >$10m, and somewhere around 1 in 300 of those (close to 1 in 100,000 households) have net worth >$1b.



Just going by the fact that the wealth distribution is fat-tailed, the (stochastic) rate at which you obtain wealth must be roughly proportional to your current wealth. Otherwise, you'd expect an exponential decay in the wealth distribution.

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Right. One has to factor into the assets that Microsoft had at the start the access to Bill Gates' dad, who was a highly successful lawyer active in technology.

Where would Microsoft's shrinkwrap sales strategy have been without legal advice?

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His mother served on the same board of directors as the IBM CEO. Which is probably why the original licensing deal was even considered and why the they where not heavy handed in their contract negotiation.

Edit: In 1980, she discussed with John Opel, a fellow committee member who was the chairman of the International Business Machines Corporation," her son's company. "Mr. Opel, by some accounts, mentioned Mrs. Gates to other I.B.M. executives. A few weeks later, I.B.M. took a chance by hiring Microsoft, then a small software firm, to develop an operating system for its first personal computer." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Maxwell_Gates

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> His mother served on the same board of directors as the IBM CEO. Which is probably why the original licensing deal was even considered and why the they where not heavy handed in their contract negotiation

The first is probably true, I agree atleast. Your second point about them not being heavy handed because they knew Bill's mother I just can't see having any shred of truth.

IBM also made a sweetheart deal with Intel with no mother's involved.

The reason they made those deals has been stated many times over.

IBM was in a huge rush to ship and they needed an OS and CPU in a very bad way. They made those deals because that's what allowed them to ship.

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Thanks for posting that. These little things are often not mentioned in the success stories we hear. Was Mrs. Gates' chat with Mr. Opel the sole cause of Microsoft's success? Of course not! But opening a few doors so early on is definitely a huge stroke of good fortune.

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