Bill Gates and his second life

March 12, 2011 § Leave a comment

My first PC was an Intel 286 architecture based system that came preloaded with Windows 3.1. Since then, I have had a love-hate relationship with Microsoft. Their software is in a way, responsible for my career and who I am today. But I didn’t personally approve of the way Microsoft muscled their way into many segments of the business killing meaningful competition and innovation by the sheer strength of their OS domination [1][2][3][4]. I continued to use Microsoft software in those years but with growing disdain. Bill Gates was the villain of the day back then.

Everything changed when Gates stepped down from his role of CEO and subsequently as Chairman of Microsoft Corp. He is now the head of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the biggest and most influential charities in the world. With his foundation, Gates has redefined his role dramatically from what it used to be. From head nerd, he is now a head philanthropist. Not just giving significant chunks of his wealth, but taking a very active interest in trying to address key world problems in the areas of health and education with the same kind of innovative spirit that defined the creation of Microsoft. In this second life, Gates has truly made a difference that matters in a significantly profound way that is truly admirable. If I sound like a shill of Gates, I really am. Especially of his tremendous impact in Africa and Asia in trying to solve basic healthcare problems.

I have always argued about the real good of capitalism in enriching humanity. I have appreciated some of the things being done by billionaire philanthropists in truly sharing their wealth [1][2], however earned.  But Gates changed the game in a way unimagined. Not only did he seize the bull by the horns, he coaxed his fellow billionaires to also commit, via the giving pledge. Much was made of Buffett signing on, but equally remarkable is how Gates convinced many more such billionaires to commit vast sums of their fortunes to make the world a better place.

We all know it is one thing to talk about donating but another to truly commit financially to make a difference in the lives of others less privileged. The cynic would argue that Gates has far more wealth than the amount he has committed. But thats besides the point. There is real good being done by Gates. One that makes him a role model for all of us to admire and emulate. Not just the geek who dropped out to co-found one of the largest corporations in the world, but the one who figured it out post retirement.

In his second life, Bill Gates has actually managed the unthinkable. Craft a profile and career that might potentially rewrite his identity in the history books. Now that is truly spectacular.

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