Ng: Bill Gates and philantrophy

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

AMONG the things currently making rounds is an interview of Bill Gates where he spoke about Steve Jobs.

These are two of the biggest titans and influences of the tech world. Amazingly they are of the same age - both born in 1955. Steve Jobs founded Apple Computers and started one of the earliest trends in computing through the Apple II. He later produced the first graphical interface in the Macintosh.

Bill Gates, on the other hand, was able to start making the operating system that ran on the IBM PC and its compatible systems and made Microsoft, through Windows and Office, the world’s biggest software company. Both eventually became billionaires and their companies were in the list of top 10 most valuable companies in the world.


Microsoft briefly became the most valuable company in the 2000s and Apple in 2011 and 2012.

They have had a love-hate relationship for the past 30 or so years. They were not only in competing platforms but were also partners. Apple sued Microsoft for stealing its graphical user interface in Windows.

But in 1997, it was Microsoft’s $150-million investment in Apple and its commitment to continue developing the Microsoft Office in the Mac that Steve Jobs sought when he came back to Apple as a way to save the company.

They attacked each other - with Steve calling Bill and Microsoft as uncreative and unimaginative. They have had better times and it was rumored that Bill actually visited Steve a few days before he passed away.

Gates’ tweet about how he would miss Steve after his death was one of the most viral and shared messages in Twitter.

Being of the same age, Bill said in the interview that Job’s death affected him profoundly and led him to be more introspect of his own mortality.

“He was so vibrant and made such a huge difference and has been a constant presence.

It really made me realize that I myself am also getting old and needed to double time in focusing on my philanthropic work,” said Bill.

Gates was the richest man in the world for over 10 years, particularly in the late 1990s, up until around 2010. No, he was not beaten in the rank. It was because he gave away so much of his wealth in creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

This is the world’s largest foundation in terms of assets (well over $60 billion, an amount that can pay off the entire foreign debt of the Philippines) as it was the recipient of the bulk of the donations of two of the world’s richest men – Warren Buffet being the other donor.

The Gates foundation is involved in trying to improve education and eradicate diseases and has been Bill’s full focus after he retired from active management of Microsoft.

Besides becoming the world’s richest man and also creating what was in a good part of almost 20 years the world’s largest software company, it could be his philanthropic work that would catapult him to the hall of fame.

It is estimated that the vaccines and cures the Gates Foundation has sponsored resulted in saving over five million lives, particularly in Africa, and in some tropical countries in the world. Now that’s something!


Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 27, 2012.


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