The UK's DailyMail has
published an entertaining interview with
renowned tech visionary and philanthropist Bill
Gates, founder and former chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT).
I. No iPads, No Big Inheritance For the Gates Brood
These days Mr. Gates is still deeply involved with Microsoft, where he serves
at the Chairman of the board, as the company's largest shareholder. But
he's been busier with his family and charity than his "workaholic"
days of the 1980s and 1990s.
Mr. Gates has donated $28B USD of his fortune to charity, via his Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, reducing his wealth to $56B USD -- a fortune second
only to Mexican media mogul Carlos Slim's $74B USD net worth. Mr. Gates
plans to give away most of his fortune to charity, reportedly leaving his
children -- two daughters and a son -- with less than $10M USD each.
He did not explicitly confirm this rumor to the Daily Mail commenting
reservedly, "It will be a minuscule portion of my wealth. It will mean
they have to find their own way. They will be given an unbelievable education
and that will all be paid for. And certainly anything related to health issues
we will take care of. But in terms of their income, they will have to pick a
job they like and go to work. They are normal kids now. They do chores, they
get pocket money."
In his mind, Mr. Gates is just a regular guy. He comments, "I drive
myself around town in a normal (sic) Mercedes. I’ve had a Lexus. The family has
a Porsche, which is a nice car that we sometimes take out. We have a minivan
and that’s what we use when it’s the five of us. My eldest daughter rides
horses, so we go to a lot of three-day shows. The kids are a big part of my
And a massive inheritance isn't the only thing his children are going to miss out
on. When asked if the kids get iPods, iPhones, or iPads he responds,
"They have the Windows equivalent. They have a Zune music player, which is
a great Windows portable player. They are not deprived children."
Zing. The Daily Mail has some critique of its own
describing Mr. Gates as follows:
To say that Gates is socially awkward is putting it mildly. This
is a man who built a multi-billion-dollar company yet seems totally unaware of
the social niceties of life. His voice is loud and oddly high-pitched. He’s in
constant motion as he speaks, rocking in his chair with his arms folded
protectively in front of him, tapping his toes, fiddling with a pen. He fails
to look me in the eye and doesn’t engage in small talk.
Overall, though the tone of the interviewer Caroline Graham is adulatory.
II. A Focus on Philanthropy
Mr. Gates' charitable foundation currently has $37.1B USD, thanks to major
contributions from fellow billionaire Warren Buffett. The charity
disperse funds from a slick new $500M USD state-of-the-art
"eco-friendly" headquarters in the Seattle, Wash. area.
The foundation's roots trace back to Mr. Gates' father, Bill Sr. who began
sending his son carefully selected requests from "begging letters"
sent to Microsoft's headquarters. Bill Sr. turned to the past time after
Bill Gates mother passed away from breast cancer. He recalls the letter
his mother sent him, which stated:
From those to whom much is given, much is expected.
He says that he thinks the best way to donate money to impoverished nations is
vaccines. He states, "You get more bang for your buck...There
are more people dying of malaria than any specific cancer. When you die of
malaria aged three it’s different from being in your seventies, when you might
die of a heart attack or you might die of cancer. And the world is putting
massive amounts into cancer, so my wealth would have had a meaningless impact
He has allocated $3.7B USD to inoculate 243 million children in the
world's poorest countries.
He dismisses criticism of aid to the third world, stating, "Charities like
the World Food Programme go in on a direct basis. When we buy vaccines we are
super-smart about what we pay. We get price reductions. We can track how many
kids get the vaccines. People don’t stockpile vaccines. It’s not like you’re
going to go to Mugabe’s mansion and you’d find polio vaccines in the basement
and he’s going [Dr. Evil impression] 'Ha, ha, ha! I took it ALL!'"
And he says criticism of aid to developing nations like India, which has 70
billionaires, is overstated. He comments, "Countries which receive
aid do graduate,’ he insists. ‘Within a generation Korea went from being a big
recipient to being a big aid donor. China used to get quite a bit of aid; now
it’s aid-neutral. India in the north still needs all the help we can give in
terms of helping with childhood death rates, maternal deaths and polio."
Mr. Gates insists that he's not doing the charity for fame. He rebukes,
"Legacy is a stupid thing! I don’t want a legacy. If people look and see
that childhood deaths dropped from nine million a year to four million because
of our investment, then wow! I liken what I’m doing now to my old job. I worked
with a lot of smart people; some things went well, some didn’t go so well. But
when you see how what we did ended up empowering people, it’s a very cool
He says his biggest passion today is finding a vaccine
for the malaria virus -- though speech recognition software is a close
quote: No, we shouldn't, because it isn't safe enough, kills people too
quote: We need a long term solution.
quote: Yeah, you may be right, but you forgot to realize that over the long haul, mosquitoes will develop immunity to DDT. We need a long term solution.
quote: Resistance is already fairly widespread due to DDT use in agriculture.
quote: So yeah, I think vaccines are good investment.
quote: DDT has it's uses and may win some battles. It will not win the war.
quote: For pennies on the dollar of what a malaria vaccine would cost, we could DDT those buggers and be done with it. Or we can continue to watch millions die in third world countries due to unfounded and baseless environmental concerns.
quote: school curriculum belong at the state level, closest to the people they serve