Bill Gates' mysterious new "think tank": bgC3

It’s only been a few months since Bill’s last day at Microsoft. Everybody asked themselves (and him, obviously) “what’s next?” Clearly his greatest responsibility is to the Foundation, but to leave tech entirely? Not likely. Although it may be an ignominious comparison, consider Michael Corleone: “Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.” And now, his reentry to the tech world is in the form of a mysterious company with no stated objective. Will bgC3 be another force in the world of technology, or is it just a front so Bill has an office to go to every day?

While nobody’s sure exactly what bgC3 is, this business is no stranger to speculation, and given Bill’s thoughtful, forward-thinking, and incredibly rich nature of late, the consensus is that bgC3 is an incubator for all the things Bill wants to do but can’t with either the Foundation or Microsoft. The name does not signify too much, apparently standing for “Bill Gates’ Company III,” although an insider suggests the “C” stands for “catalyst.” Either way, the establishment of the company as a “think tank” (as documented in its paperwork) relating to scientific and technological services,” “industrial analysis and research,” and “design and development of computer hardware and software” is more telling.

Obviously he is going to be investing in new technology, but what form will it take? Does he have a wad of cash and it’ll be independent? Does he have a sharing agreement with Microsoft, guaranteeing funding in return for first dibs on whatever juicy things he cooks up? Or perhaps it’s a grassroots seeding foundation, a Bill and Melinda Gates for startups that strike his fancy? Surely it’s not just a VC firm with a big name at the head, though. That would be so crass.

My guess is that it will be a clearing house for new technology, a next-generation office that will play host to teams designing next-generation technology, from nuclear waste containment to medical robots to $100 laptops — all under the umbrella of Bill and Bill’s wallet. Think Dean Kamen crossed with Jay Gatsby. That’s the dream, anyway.

The company’s only existed since March, and it’s only been bgC3 for a couple weeks, so I think we’ll be hearing a lot more concrete information in the next month.