The antitrust case against Bill Gates & Co. is often the subject of this column. Gates, the world’s richest man, attracts an exorbitant amount of admiration and loathing — as do most giants of industry.
The fact that his products have been instrumental in transforming the fabric of our economy from industrial to high-tech only makes his worshipers or detractors even more vocal. There are newsgroups and Web sites that thrive on keeping tabs on his every move.
But I’d like to step away from all this controversy and focus for a moment on the other side of Bill Gates — a side his detractors never seem to talk about.
Foundation To Improve Global Health
Over the first three quarters of 1999, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have kicked another $5 billion (US$) into their foundation dedicated to improving global health and learning. That brings its total assets to $17.1 billion.
Here’s a breakdown of how some of the money is being spent:
$50 million to the Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
$100 million to a program designed to deliver lifesaving vaccines to children in developing countries.
$50 million to a program administered by Columbia University to prevent maternal death in pregnancy and childbirth in the poorest countries.
$25 million to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative.
In addition to this philanthropic work, Gates and his wife have donated $200 million to bring computers, Internet access and training to low-income libraries throughout the U.S. and Canada. Gates has also managed to found and build a software company that currently employs about 27,000 workers – and creates jobs for millions of others who market, service or use Microsoft’s products.
There’s no denying that the other Gates — the one who never seems to be written about — has certainly made a lot of money. But he has also given a lot of it away. Still, his critics counter by saying he’s been able to do so by creating a monopoly that has forced other businesses from the marketplace.
Maybe, maybe not — the jury is still out.
But I do know one thing: Based on his generous giving, there is definitely a good side to Bill Gates.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it.