He also had interests closer to home on which to spend fictional billions: "I would buy huge tracts of coastline in the UK and donate it to the National Trust. I'd also buy ugly buildings and knock them down."
Noble enough stuff, which would make it hard to begrudge Sir Tim a chunk of the Microsoft fortune. In the real world, meanwhile, one of the UK media's most enduring figures, Phil Georgiadis, the chairman of Walker Media, cashed in his final stake in the business for £4.8 million (80 per cent cash, 20 per cent M&C Saatchi shares). Not in the Bill Gates league, perhaps, but a tidy pay-out nonetheless.
Although wage-slave agency rivals might disagree, it's hard to resent Georgiadis for the money he's made from Walker Media. In the week when it was announced that the ITV executive chairman, Michael Grade, has pocketed close to £2 million for a year's work at an ailing ITV, it was encouraging to see reward for someone who has devoted years to running a demonstrably successful business.
Georgiadis comes across as a sincere man to whom family is important. And, ownership of a vintage Aston Martin aside, he has adopted an unflashy industry image. Which is not to say he's a sentimental softie. While being emotional and passionate about the business he and Christine Walker created (she once said of him: "I thought he was an incredibly deep young man, highly sensitive. I'd watch him in a meeting and see the stretch in his brain; he almost visibly became tired"), he has proved tough as nails in continuing to grow it following the announcement of her departure almost a year ago.
The star performer in M&C Saatchi's 2007 results, Walker Media was singled out by the ad group for its "second successive year of strong growth", and is responsible for a sizeable chunk of M&C's £8 million profits. That it continues to perform so well is testament to the hard work of Georgiadis and his team, especially as the doubters questioned the future direction of the agency following Walker's departure.
Unlike many who have made their money, Georgiadis (who is 45) shows no inclination to move away from the day-to-day coalface of running a media agency. He's strengthened the agency from within (last December, the managing partner Simon Davis was promoted to managing director) and achieved good growth from existing clients.
Not everything is going its way (it is set to lose its long-standing client First Choice as part of a consolidation process), but, in general, Walker Media is in very capable hands.
- Feature, page 22.