Re: Billanthropic talk

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From: Matt Jensen (
Date: Tue Oct 31 2000 - 10:35:43 PPET

True, Bill could give more of his stock over to the foundation. But note
that it's hard for these foundations to find ways to spend their money.
At least, that's what we've been told in the past 100 years of
philanthropy. It takes time to find ways to spend money that will
actually have beneficial effects, get through third world and U.N. red
tape, etc.

You can certainly argue about this, and wonder whether things would move
faster if you replaced the Junior League, high-society philanthropy
managers with someone with entrepreneurial spirit, experience managing
complex projects, etc. Someone like Patti Stonecipher, the former MSFT
exec running one of Bill's foundations... I don't know whether she's
considered successful or not in that role, but if she's not, it's likely
to be the role that's flawed, rather than Patti (assuming a good executive
is all that's needed).

Finally, regardless of what I might think of Bill on other issues, he is
sincere in his believe that the Digital Divide doesn't mean jack to the
poorest people in the world, who have no food or clean water. Some time
back I read an article [no source, sorry] on his foundation, describing
how he learned this lesson when he went to some third world village to
celebrate the delivery of a PC with Windows. The PC required all the
electricity available in the village, and could only be run for a few
hours a day, I believe. Shortly after realizing the absurdity of this, he
directed his foundation to start channeling more money to the fight
against diseases. (I think he gave $1 billion or so to fight river
blindness, at the urging of Jimmy Carter.)


 On Tue, 31 Oct 2000, Tom Whore wrote:

> A biilion here a billion there....yea hes hasnt doen anything with his
> cash. Pullthe other one.
> '"Let's be serious. Let's be serious," Gates said, sparring with moderator
> Scott Shuster , a Business Week editor. "Do people have a clear view of
> what it means to live on $1 a day? ... There are things those people
> need at that level other than technology. ... About 99 percent of the
> benefits of having (a PC) come when you've provided reasonable health and
> literacy to the person who's going to sit down and use it."
> Asked whether he views the rural poor as a business opportunity for
> Microsoft -- another major theme at the conference -- he answered, "I will
> admit that in our business forecast, we don't have a significant
> percentage of our future growth even coming from people who live on $3 a
> day." Then he was off again.
> "Do people have a clear view of what it means to live on $1 a day?" he
> said, repeating himself. "There's no electricity in that house. None. Is
> someone creating computers that don't require electricity?"
> "There are solar-powered systems," Shuster ventured.
> "No! There are no solar-powered systems for less than $1 a day!" Gates
> insisted. "You're buying food, you're trying to stay alive. You live in a
> different world!"
> Giving up, Shuster replied meekly, "I'm just the moderator."
> Gates is an ardent capitalist and technophile who also founded the $17
> billion Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He said the foundation puts 60
> percent of its revenues into improving health and 30 percent into
> education.
> It donated $30 million to a vaccination program in India last month and
> has committed more than $1 billion worldwide toward fighting disease and
> developing reproductive health care.

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