Brad Stone has the story in the New York Times:
Earlier this month, the Microsoft co-founder reportedly deleted his Facebook page after receiving thousands of friend requests and becoming unnerved by some strange fan groups on the site.
Now Mr. Gates, who apparently has a little bit of free time on his hands these days as he transitions out of his day-to-day role at Microsoft, has popped up on the social network Linkedin. Mr. Gates has a paltry three connections on the professional networking service now, but on Thursday he is announcing his presence by posing a question to the LinkedIn community: “How can we do more to encourage young people to pursue careers in science and technology?”
Mr. Gates’ appearance presents something of a marketing opportunity for the Mountain View, Calif., social network.
No, ya think? Microsoft very sensibly bought a bunch of ads on LinkedIn timed for Gates’ debut, but of course the much larger value for LinkedIn is supporting their message of a site for successful professionals. If Gates finds time even sporadically to participate in discussions, what a huge pull that will be (a potential chance to interact with Bill Gates!); even if not, it’s still huge for LinkedIn that he’s hanging out there.
And it’s certainly very Bill-like to start out with an excellent question, one relevant both to Microsoft and the Gates Foundation — and a lot of other people on LinkedIn as well. Still, it’s a little strange to me: wouldn’t it make more sense to ask the same question on Facebook or MySpace, where — unlike LinkedIn — there are actually a lot of real live young people?