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The Gates Effect

Ever since Bill Gates started giving away the bulk of his billions, his press has been decidedly positive. It got even better when Warren Buffett joined up, basically doubling the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's resources.

The idea of billionaires giving away billions got rolling with media tycoon Ted Turner, who challenged the then-employed Microsoft CEO Gates to start sharing the wealth with those in need. Many scoffed when Bill said he was too busy to give his money away properly but to trust him, and once he retired a good 90 percent of his many bucks would be given away.

Bill has made good on his promise and created a new model for philanthropy. Instead of just tossing money at existing charities, or building hospitals and libraries which serve the public as much as the giver's vanity, Gates carefully researches unmet needs. That's why Bill doesn't give as much for cancer research, which has a lot of support (of course, it's never enough), focusing instead on neglected needs, such as malaria in the third world.

A bunch of other billionaires just pledged to give away at least half their wealth, and the list includes a handful of tech titans: AOL founder Steve Case (who was kind enough to take my totally unsolicited phone call years ago when I called out of the blue to ask about Microsoft) and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg are two notable tech givers.

Posted by Doug Barney on 12/10/2010 at 1:18 PM


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