It’s that he speaks only English.
During a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session on Wednesday, the Microsoft founder said he wants to learn another language.
“I feel pretty stupid that I don’t know any foreign languages,” Gates, who runs the philanthropic Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, wrote in the third such Q&A he has done on Reddit. “I took Latin and Greek in high school and got A’s and I guess it helps my vocabulary but I wish I knew French or Arabic or Chinese.”
He said he was impressed by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who conducted a Q&A with students in China last October completely in Mandarin, a language he began studying in recent years. Gates called the move “incredible.”
“I keep hoping to get time to study one of these -- probably French because it is the easiest,” wrote Gates, ranked by Forbes as the world’s richest man. “I did Duolingo for awhile but didn’t keep it up.”
As a billionaire endeavoring to become bilingual, Gates is in good company. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- now back at the helm of his eponymous media and financial data company -- has been studying Spanish for years. According to a profile published Tuesday in The New York Times, he continues his lessons in a designated conference room at Bloomberg headquarters.
A 2009 poll from employment agency Korn/Ferry International found that 31 percent of executives speak two languages, and about 20 percent speak three.