Time to salute tech success

It was heartening to see technology producing its fair share of the wealthy on Forbes most recent rich list.
Written by Darren Greenwood, Contributor

It was heartening to see technology producing its fair share of the wealthy on Forbes most recent rich list.

Usually such lists, like the equivalent NBR Rich List in New Zealand, stir whinging from the envious and idle, but I feel we should raise our glasses to the geeks who made it and delivered so many good things for us all.

Bill Gates may no longer be global number one, but despite constant complaints about his monopolistic practices, we should all accept the massive benefits Microsoft has delivered to personal and business computing alike over the years.

Looking at others, we should also recognise the benefits Larry Ellison's Oracle has brought business through its software. Michael Dell deserves his place for making computers cheaper and tailor-made. Then, there's the relative newcomers, such as the creators of Amazon, Google and Facebook whose billions also put them on the Forbes list.

Each in their own way has made a major impact on our lives and deserve their success and riches. Many have also done their bit for charity, leading to organisations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates' Foundation.

New Zealand also has its billionaires, with tech delivering some super-wealthy people.

We have Nick and Tim Wood who created internet service provider ihug, which they later sold to Perth-based iiNet.

There is also Seeby Woodhouse, who also sold an internet service provider, and is now branded one of New Zealand's hottest singles. Another is software king Rod Drury.

However, we must not forget who might be the biggest tech success story of them all.

Sam Morgan developed the dominant website Trade Me, which has expanded from a simple auction site of people selling their unwanted items, to the country's top website with employment and property listings as well.

Fairfax bought Trade Me for what seemed a massive NZ$700 million a few years back, but its continued success shows the website was probably a very wise investment.

Like many of the super-rich above, Sam and his father Gareth Morgan have a philanthropic bent too, shown in Sam's latest business venture announced last week.

Launching the NZ$900 million Pacific Fibre Cable linking the US, New Zealand and Australia, Sam noted the 13,000km link need not be built on profit-maximising principles such was the need for better global broadband traffic between New Zealand and elsewhere.

Regardless of how the link (which also features Rod Drury) operates, it again highlights how many tech millionaires are doing their best to help their country, wherever they are.

And not everybody makes it in the IT industry. As the 10th anniversary of the dotcom bubble came around last week, we must remember the many techies whose ventures collapsed, and those whose millions on paper vanished as quickly as they appeared.

Thus, while we might wonder if having tens of millions or even tens of billions of dollars is a little too much for some people, we should remember these entrepreneurs deserve it. Not only did they work hard and risk much to create technologies that have changed our lives for the better, but they're also willing to distribute some of what they've earned.

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