The hype that really matters

Would you celebrate money that's given to rid the world's ills or money made from selling a piece of aluminum-backed device capable of making good for just a year at a time?
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Yes, today's the day where all that hype finally hits its climax and legions of diehard fanboys are rejoicing the fact they can now see Liverpool on the EPL table, without scrolling down the screen of their fruity smartphone.

But, today, I'd much rather put the focus on something which I strongly believe is more worthy of the hype. The cover of the latest issue of Forbes Magazine features 12 "Titans of Philanthropy" who, together, have a net worth of US$126 billion. The portrait was shot to mark its first-ever Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy on Jun. 26, which gathered 161 billionaires who have dedicated time and resources toward solving the world's problems.

The dazzling dozen included Bill and Melinda Gates, Marc Benioff, Steve Case, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffett, and Jon Bon Jovi. 

Forbes Titans of Philanthrop
"Titans of Philanthropy" (Source: Forbes Magazine)

It's great to see some of these great names had spawned from IT, and heartening to know the industry isn't just about fancy smartphone launches and sales figures.

During his Singapore visit back in 2006, rather than tout his company's wares, Benioff--who is Salesforce.com's founder and CEO--had chosen instead to peddle philanthropy.

The burly executive subscribes to a 1:1:1 model, in which 1 percent of the company's equity, 1 percent of total profits, and 1 percent of its employees' paid time--or volunteerism--are donated to the Salesforce Foundation. According to its Web site, the foundation aims to identify solutions to social and environmental problems, and has given over US$40 million in grants and 350,000 volunteer hours.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hasn't been sitting on its laurels either. Since 1994, it has paid out grants totaling over US$23.4 billion, US$3.4 billion of which were distributed last year. It supports efforts in 50 U.S. states as well as over 100 countries worldwide, and some of its beneficiaries include the Alliance for a Green revolution in Africa, Save the Children, and World Food Programme.

Last year, after helping India to eradicate polio, the Gates Foundation focused its work on driving innovation in improving toilets and sanitation. With a personal worth of US$66 billion, Microsoft's chairman and co-founder Bill Gates, to date, has given away US$28 billion of his wealth.

The Forbes Philanthropy list also includes Case, co-founder and former chairman of AOL Time Warner, whose Case Foundation seeks to tap technology, the Internet and social media to better facilitate philanthropy.

I applaud the efforts of these great individuals who will no doubt leave great legacies for not only the wealth they've so willingly distributed, but also for their tireless dedication to make this world a better place for every living soul.

I'd rather celebrate the money they gave away to rid the world's ills, than the money made from selling a piece of aluminum-backed device capable of making good for just a year at a time.

Source: Forbes Magazine
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