Skip to main content
Photo Credit: The Economic Club of Washington, D.C./Joshua Roberts

Bill Gates

Chair of the Board, Breakthrough Energy Ventures | June 24, 2019
Discussed investment in technology to address climate change.

Thank you to our event sponsors: 360 Live Media; Bernstein Private Wealth Management; Citigroup Inc.; Consummate Capital LLC; GEICO; Goldman Sachs & Co.; Halcyon; Intuit; KETTLER; National Geographic Partners; Voya Investment Management; WC Smith

In front of a crowd of nearly 900 attendees, Bill Gates, Chair of the Board, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, discussed his foundation's investments in clean energy startups and R&D in an effort to find reliable power sources without contributing to climate change. Gates emphasized the importance of recognizing climate change as a global threat. "In the United States, it’s become somewhat of a partisan issue, which is unfortunate.  You know, it might make it harder to achieve the type of agreements we need here in the United States... We have the people who deny climate, and then we have the people who think it’s easy to solve.  And we need to help educate both of those groups," he said. When asked how the average person can have a positive impact on the health of the environment, Gates noted that driving up the scale of green solutions such as less meat consumption and buying renewable electricity sources would be most beneficial.

He also discussed his time as CEO and Founder of Microsoft. Gates revealed that his biggest professional mistake was not having Android technology, which has since become the largest non-Apple mobile phone operating system globally. "We missed being the dominant mobile operating system by a very tiny amount," he noted. "We were distracted during our antitrust trial; we didn’t assign the best people to do the world.  So it’s the biggest mistake I made in terms of something that was clearly within our skillset.  We were clearly the company that should [have] achieved that.  And we didn’t."