Another Berkshire director, former Coca-Cola executive Don Keough, is also thinking about the long run. He tells Bloomberg, "When you're sitting on the board, you're talking about sustainability of Berkshire Hathaway long-term, the issue of management down the road. The culture he's built into Berkshire is intense and real and, I think, permanent."
Buffett, who is 78 years old, has acknowledged to Bloomberg (and others) that the succession question is "the most important issue there is. There's nothing more important. Nobody knows on any given day where I'll be the next day."
Berkshire has identified candidates to replace Buffett as CEO. They all "currently work for or are available to Berkshire and are people in whom I have total confidence," but Buffett and the company absolutely refuse to name any names.
There's been, however, no shortage of speculation.
Portions of the Gates and Keough interviews will appear in a Bloomberg TV special about Berkshire Hathaway, airing today (Tuesday) at 5p ET.
Current Berkshire stock prices: