When the Richest Fight…

August 25, 2010

In the late 1990s Media mogul Ted Turner gave a billion in Time-Warner stock to the United Nations saying “We can no longer measure the value of a life by net worth!” Turner publicly chastised Bill Gates and Warren Buffet for not doing enough.

Gates reportedly responded that it wasn’t the right time to focus on philanthropy. Turner didn’t, pun intended, buy it. New York Times Op-Ed columnist Maureen Dowd reported Turner’s challenge adding they should give and “They should do it no-o-ow.” To his credit, Gates did. He launched The Gates Foundation with $17 billion in 1999.

Eight years later, a smiling Gates was sitting in a funky red leather chair on stage with Steve Jobs of, do I really even need to say.. Apple. They were at D: All Things Digital, Wall Street Journal’s Executive Conference. A blue blazered, faded jeans wearing audience member stood and asked about legacy.

Steve answered “I think the world’s a better place ’cause Bill realized his goal is not to be the richest guy in the cemetery.” (Of course, that was never Bill’s goal. It was to put a computer on every desk. His vision made the Gates’ very, very rich and millions of MS Office XP users cranky.)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, whose third partner is Warren Buffet – perhaps the wealthiest and most quotable investor of all time  (“I made my first investment at the age of 11, before that my life was a waste of time.” ) are using their wealth to solve the kind of problems that control, alt delete can’t fix. In fact, Buffet announced that he is giving  99% of his wealth to the foundation so they can improve global health and education. 1% would have been 650 000 000 so 99% of 65 billion should help a continent or six or another planet if they’re in trouble.

Ted Turner and other gabillionaires (my term, you can quote me) reminds us that fighting to be the best in the world and for the world is the wealthiest of legacies.


The ‘Ted Turner chastises Gates and Buffet’ story is from Career Warfare by David F. D’Allessandro, CEO of John Hancock. Turner’s direct philanthropy quote was found on journalist Jim Freeman’s site The D: All Things Digital, Wall Street Journal’s Executive Conference clip can be found on youtube and Buffet’s delicious quote is from the Tao of Buffet.

If it is not your genius it is not your job.
Louise B. Karch