The Astrology of Two Tech Titans
Let’s look at the astrology of tech entrepreneurs Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Their operating systems, Apple and Microsoft, continue to dominate the world computer market and made them both billionaires. Given the similarity of their professional paths and their rivalry, it seems fitting to analyze profession in both of their charts together.
I apply an ancient astrological technique for delineating profession. It originated in Hellenistic astrology. The reader is referred to the brief outline of the technique in the first article, “Astrology of Profession or Calling | 1. Technique“. Please read through that article so you understand the delineation process. Also, see the last article on the analysis of profession in the chart of musician Trent Reznor.
Mercurial Occupations and Martial Strategies
Technologists, businessmen, and scholars all share a strong emphasis on Mercury. Mercury is the planet of intellect, reason, speech, technology, and symbolism. We often (though not always) see a lot of overlap between academic prowess, technological proficiency, and financial acumen. For instance, the founders of Google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin are tech scholars turned business leaders. Entrepreneurship pertains to Mars, due to the heavy emphasis on strategy. Therefore, tech entrepreneurship is a matter that pertains to both Mercury and Mars.
A brief biography for Steve Jobs can be found on Wikipedia. His chart is given a Rodden Rating of AA for accuracy on Astro-Databank. His chart is pictured below (CTRL-Click to open an expanded version in a new tab).
Relevance to Actions
The Sun is the only planet in a “stake” being in the 7th. Mercury is in the 6th. Jupiter and Venus are in the 11th and 5th respectively. Less pertinent are the Moon and Mars in the 8th. All three planets of action are in relevant places, so all have some thing to say about professional skills.
Mercury is the house ruler of both the 10th and the 1st, the 1st triplicity ruler of the 10th, and the exalted ruler of the 1st. Mars is bound ruler of both the Ascendant and MC. The other planets have less relevance as they all have only triplicity rulership in either the 1st or 10th, but not both. As both the 1st and 10th are houses of Mercury, Mercury has the most relevance. Mars has secondary relevance.
Phasis and the Lights
Mercury is in phasis, coming out from the beams less than a week before birth. Mercury is the planet receiving the next application of the Moon. Mars is assembled with the Moon. Again we see a particular emphasis on Mercury, with a lesser emphasis on Mars.
Mercury has the most relevance to actions. Of the three “actions” planets, Mars is next most significant. The Sun is also significant in terms of professional matters. Venus, Jupiter, and the Moon are significant to a lesser degree.
The Moon is just about strongly advancing, while Jupiter and Venus are also advancing pretty forcefully. Mars is also advancing, while Mercury is just barely advancing.
Relationships to Lights:
Mercury is in phasis and is being applied to by the Moon. Mars is assembled with the Moon. Both Lights regard Jupiter and Venus.
Mercury is very strong, as it is stationing direct within 24 hours of birth.
Mercury is the strongest planet. Mercury is stationing direct, in phasis, and is advancing. The Moon is also very strong, while Jupiter and Venus are to a lesser extent.
Steve Jobs Professional Indications
Mercury has the greatest testimony in matters of occupation and is the strongest planet of the chart in a general way. Intellectual development is most relevant to the occupation. This emphasizes technology and business.
An element of publicity (the Sun) is also extremely relevant to the profession. Competitiveness and public affairs are very relevant (Mars). There is also an important role that subjective experience plays (the Moon), which is reflected in his software and hardware design choices (ease of use). There is additionally pretty relevant development in terms of aesthetics (Venus).
Mercury in Depth
To keep things brief though, let’s focus on the primary planet of actions, Mercury. Mercury is in a human air sign, pertaining to social phenomena, like ideas, trends, news, education, and technology. Mercury is in a sign of Saturn and is dominated by Saturn (right-side square). Saturn is the out of sect malefic, so there are many negative associations with Mercury in terms of struggle, death, loss, oppression, and so forth, and Mercury is in the 6th of slaves (employees) and health issues, both of which were critical sore areas in Jobs’ life. Saturn pertains to solidity, industry, and management, while it is in the 3rd which pertains to communication and transportation. Mercury’s natural significance in terms of communication is increased and there is an increased association with business management and working with solid resources such as hardware.
A brief biography for Bill Gates can be found on Wikipedia, and his chart is given a Rodden Rating of A for accuracy on Astro-Databank. His chart is pictured below (CTRL+click to open an expanded version in a new tab).
Relevance to Actions
The Moon is in the 10th, while Mars and Mercury are in a “stake” (the 4th). Jupiter is in the 2nd. The Sun, Venus, and Saturn are less relevant, being in the 5th.
The ruler of the 10th is Mars, while the Moon rules the 1st. Mars and Jupiter have dignity in both places, but Jupiter more so.
Phasis and the Lights:
Mercury is in phasis, coming out from the beams just under a week before birth. Mars is the planet receiving the next application of the Moon. Venus and Saturn are also in phasis and assembled with the Sun.
Mars, Mercury, Venus, the Moon, and Jupiter have relevance to actions. Of the three “actions” planets, Mars and Mercury are the most relevant and are together in the same sign. Both planets are in a stake of the 10th. Mars has dignity at the 10th and 1st, whereas Mercury does not, but Mercury is in phasis, so it is particularly highlighted. Venus is in appropriate place and in phasis so she has lesser relevance as well.
The Moon, Mars, and Mercury are strongly advancing. All other planets in the chart are advancing to a lesser extent.
Relationships to Lights:
Mercury, Venus, and Saturn are in phasis. The Moon applies to Mars. Venus and Saturn are assembled with the Sun. Jupiter regards both lights, and is in the home of the Sun.
Mercury is stationing direct.
Mercury is the strongest planet. Mercury is stationing direct, in phasis, and is very strongly advancing. Mars and the Moon are very strong in the chart. Venus is also quite strong.
Bill Gates Professional Indications
Mars has the greatest testimony in terms of occupation, while Mercury is stronger in the chart overall due to being in phasis, stationing direct, in a “stake” of the chart, and strongly advancing, all at the same. Jupiter in the 2nd of wealth and possessions, as well as strong, is probably connected in some part to both Bill’s immense financial acumen and development of philanthropic pursuits as a vocation. He is currently working full-time with his philanthropic organization, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The prominence of the Moon is very interesting, as Gates, like Jobs, worked primarily in adapting technology to natural human experience. The strength of the Moon and Mercury, and the strong connection of the Moon with the 1st, give strong indications of his mental acuity. The Moon and Mercury were the two most important planets for mind or soul in Ptolemy’s astrology. The Moon also pertains strongly to the brain, memory, and intuition.
Mercury in Depth
As with Jobs, Mercury is in an Air sign, pertaining to more social phenomena. Mercury is in a sign of Venus and is assembled with Mars. We might expect Mercury to pertain to design (Venus) and the military or domestic public affairs to some extent (Mars). In other words, we see a greater emphasis on involvement in meeting the demands of competitive business, military, and public affairs in this Mercury placement, and less on physical materials, than we do with the more Saturnine Mercury of Steve Jobs.
It is worth noting that the twelfth-part of Gates’ Mercury is in the Mercury bound of Aries, the 10th place. This further reinforces the importance of Mercury in his career and connects it with Mars.
Mars in Depth
Gates was able to secure great success for his company through aggressive strategy. At times his aggressive competitiveness became unethical as he sought to lock out competition, bringing on multiple controversial anti-trust suits. His management style was also known to be particularly harsh and abrasive. Mars is in Libra with Mercury, so many of the same associations with Mercury apply to Mars and they work together. He participated in the congressional Page program at age 17, so his involvement in public affairs came early and has persisted in his life. In whole, his career has been centrally about beating competition and coming out ahead in power struggles. He was the wealthiest person in the world for 14 years and has persisted as one of the most powerful.
This technique with the chart of Bill Gates shows similar results as those for many very high-climbing politicians and industry leaders. For very socially mobile people, Mars does not show “brawn” so much as a development of competitiveness, strategy, and the desire to make a powerful impact on the lives of others.
Interestingly, Gates had some political experience at a young age. He was a congressional page for the House of Representatives at age 17. That same year he graduated high school as a National Merit Scholar, scored 1590 out of 1600 on his SAT, and enrolled in Harvard the same year. It was the year when Mars directed to the Ascendant by sextile and the Jupiter directed to the sect light (the Moon) by trine. If you are not familiar with primary directions, then please check out the introductory article on them.
A Key Year: Microsoft Windows
There are a larger number of stand-out events in Gates’ life. Let’s look at one particularly pivotal year for him, age 30, which saw the launch of the first retail version of the Microsoft Windows operating system (on 11/20/1985).
Mercury as Distributor
The event occurred during the first time in Gates’ life in which Mercury was the distributor. Mercury was the distributor from early 1984 to mid-1992. This period saw the development, launch, and ascendancy of Microsoft’s flagship product, Windows.
Saturn as Lord of the Year Conjunct Mercury
In terms of annual profections, age 30 is a 7th house year. Gates’ 7th house is Capricorn, so the lord of the year was its ruler, Saturn. In his natal chart, Saturn is in the 5th house of good fortune, conjunct the sect benefic, Venus, and dominated by the 2nd house Jupiter. In his solar return chart of the year, we see that the year marked his first Saturn return and that return Mercury was conjunct return Saturn and natal Saturn. Additionally, return Venus was conjunct his natal Mercury. Therefore, we see an emphasis both on Saturn (responsibility, authority, challenge, maturity, solidity) and on Mercury (technology, intellect, commerce), with fortunate circumstances linked to Mercury through Venus (the sect benefic).
Timing by Degree-Based Profections
In the article on degree-based profections, I noted that they can be used to time out big events in the year within a couple weeks. There are a number of very interesting profections involved with the release of Windows on 11/20/1985.
We’ve already discussed how important Mercury and Mars are for Gates’ career. Mercury and Mars are strongly advancing together, Mercury’s twelfth-part is in the 10th, and Mars is the ruler of the 10th. Mercury is the distributor for the time period. We also must look at Saturn and Venus. The profection is to the 7th house ruled by Saturn, making Saturn lord of the year, and it is conjunct Venus. Saturn is also activated by planetary years at age 30, and Saturn was lord of days. The solar return emphasized those planets as well.
Take note of the following natal positions: Mars at 10 Libra, twelfth-part Ascendant at about 23 Taurus, and twelfth-part Mercury at 19 Aries. The rate of change for degree-based profection is 2.5 per month. About 3/4 of a month had elapsed since the solar return, amounting to just under 2 degrees. It was a 7th house profection, so the year starts with all points opposite their natal positions. Therefore, every point in the natal chart would have profected to the opposite degrees as its natal position plus about 2 degrees.
The following profectional conjunctions are within a degree at the time of Windows release: profected Moon conjoins natal Mars; profected Saturn conjoins natal twelfth-part Ascendant; profected Mercury conjoins natal twelfth-part Mercury.
Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs have Mercury and Mars as the most relevant planets for actions. While both were technologists (Mercury), they were also both leaders engaged in highly competitive strategy and public affairs (Mars). The combination of Mercury and Mars is also evocative of electronics themselves. The emphasis on air signs in both charts gears things toward the more human and ephemeral (software) as well as the utilitarian and trendy.
With Steve Jobs we see Saturn play a stronger role, both in terms of a greater focus on the physical (hardware) and in terms of the more pertinent career struggles. Bill Gates highlights the more important role of Mars, where the emphasis is more on the competitive advantage and being number one.
Note that this article was updated in late 2018 (October-December) with some additional information on twelfth-parts in the charts and the addition of the example of the release of Windows.