Bill Gates Rolls in an Escalade

Kind of last minute I heard that Bill Gates was delivering a speech at the University of Texas campus to a crowd of only computer science students. I’ve already seen Steve Ballmer speak, so now I wanted to see Gates.

Problem was only current computer science students had admission to this speech, which is bad since I’m neither a computer science major nor a student….but there’s ALWAYS a way around those little rules.

A little recon showed the admission “ticket” was simply an inch wide, hot pink wristband that CS students stood in line for hours to get. They were making this almost TOO easy! After a quick trip to Office Max for some different shades of pink paper and double-stick tape, I was going to cut the paper to an inch wide and double-tape the ends to make a bracelet. However I quickly realized that two standard-sized wristbands put together looked like the real thing. Even easier.

So a strip of scotch tape plus two hot pink wristbands and voila…

…instant fake Bill Gates admission pass!

So I walk in the Texas Union Ballroom, flash the wristband and they let me in. It was a packed house, and I literally had to sit in the LAST seat at the very back.

One of the first things he did was show the (very well done) “Bill Gates’ Last Day at Microsoft” video that’s supposed to be a spoof of “The Office” ….in case you haven’t seen it:

He then gave his speech which was mostly about how software and philanthropy can help each other, it was pretty interesting stuff.

Some stuff I found interesting:

  • He was actually a really charismatic and good speaker. I was pleasantly surprised by this.
  • Instead of water at the podium, he drank a Diet Coke.
  • He never bashed Apple or Google, and in fact spoke very highly of both.

So of course I wanted a picture with him, unfortunately since this was so last minute I didn’t have a great plan to get one. As the richest man in the world, he is probably also the most bothered man in the world, so I knew his security would be really high, and since the Obama/Clinton debate was taking place at UT the following day, the whole campus was on high alert already.

So after the speech I went around the back of the Texas Union where the VIP’s leave from, and spotted his entourage. There were two vehicles which looked associated with him: one red Cadillac Escalade and one black Chevy Tahoe.

Three “normal” looking guys were standing around these cars which were obviously positioned for a quick escape out of the building. The guys were obviously his security detail…all looked tough but were dressed to blend in the crowd. It didn’t quite work, since it was three strong guys dressed in similar, gray North Face jackets. There were also several police officers positioned by the doors where he would exit from. I tried casually walking through the doors several times just to push my luck but was stopped each time.

It was funny because one of Gates’ guards looked a lot like Tim Ferris!

Once his security guys got the word Gates was leaving, they re-positioned the red Escalade right against the stairwell and opened the doors. Right then, Gates and two other guys walked down the stairs together as his security guys stood in a flanked position to block any access to him. I was about 10 feet away from Bill Gates when one of the security guys (who I was chatting up earlier) stopped me. I asked, “Is there any way I could get a quick picture,” to which he replied, “Sorry man, not today.” By the time he finished his sentence, Gates and the two other men hopped in the backseat of the Escalade.

Two of the security guys jumped in the front driver and passenger seats and drove off with the third security guy trailing them in the black Tahoe. Judging by the tires, windows and side-profile of the opened doors, none of the SUV’s looked armored.

I snapped this quick picture right as they were leaving. That’s Bill Gates sitting by that window (can’t really see him through the tint).

Blog posted on: February 21, 2008

16 comments on “Bill Gates Rolls in an Escalade

  1. chris sivori

    Nice work, Neville. You hacked into the event using some good old social engineering, ie. you looked like you belonged.

  2. Ninjamoney

    Thats one guy I want to meet before I die. And I always think about doing some fake band thing, but never seem to go through with it. haaha Great stuff man.

    Ninja Money

  3. me2press

    That was a great post. I saw Bill Gates live at the Ontario Place in Toronto. At that event you had to be 18 years old or younger. The girl at the gate asked if I was under 18 I said um ha and walked right in, also got a free T-shirt that said I saw Bill Gates live. It was the same thing for security and this was back in 1996/97 I could not get access to to the car area to ask for an autograph. It was cool at least I got to see the richest man in person and I was very close to the front. Good work Nev.

  4. Travis

    Just came across your blog and found it very interesting. I love how you got in to see Bill Gates. Also loved your pictures with the Frito Lay CEO. I’m bookmarking yours. I’ll be back.

  5. P2P-Loans

    Now that Bill slumped to the 2nd richest man in the world, you’ll need to seek out admission to the next Buffet speach. Bill would probably appreciate the pink wristband deal as well. Nice story – keep it up.

  6. Trees Full of Money

    Awesome post. I wish I was 1/10 as resourceful as you when it comes to getting into these invitation only events!

    My favorite is the Elton John concert!

    That’s a pretty pimpin’ Escalade Mr. Gates has there. What’s even greater is that it probably represents about 30 seconds worth of the interest on his money!

  7. Fabe

    Great post, wow Bill Gates, yea I don’t know if he likes posing for pictures. I mean having to stop for a picture can cost him one thousand dollars according to the phrase time is money.

  8. Anthony Mallgren

    Wow… sounds like the foundation of a future NevRon. The rules are really there to be outsmarted anyways, right?

    Besides the checks and balance at, how was Bill Gates? The selection of the Escalade has to be due to the same fact you state for the Northface coats… even Bill Gates even knows the value in technological substance.

  9. Escalade Guy

    Good story. Gates is the person that I admire. I read about him and his story impress and inspire me. I’m so envy you that you saw him.

  10. Pingback: How to crash a party | Neville's Financial Blog

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