They always crumble.
Microsoft is looking very middle aged at the moment. Vista is delayed, Bill just doesn’t ‘get’ a lot of things and Windows still rules the world. His view of innovation is that it is competition. And in a competition there are always winners and losers. Bill always likes to be the winner.
It is interesting to compare this with religious movements. For example Christianity (but it could be Buddhism or Islam or Hinduism). Christianity has grown from a small group of followers two thousand years ago to a worldwide collection of over a third of the world’s population.
It continues to express itself in new and refreshing ways. Christian Empires have come and gone but its community has continued to flourish and find new expressions. It has ’emerged’ again and again.
I think it was Napoleon who said, “Caesar, Charlemagne and myself have all built great Empires founded on force, Christ built one far greater based on love.”
I think that too often we miss this principle and think in terms of empire building rather than people building. I think that this is an important distinction between the likes of Bill, Napoleon and some of the truly great leaders who have established a legacy far beyond themselves.
Microsoft has conquered the world. But that means there is a competitor waiting to rise up to be the next winner.