Author: Alex Zeldin
Steve Jobs was a genius. Search Google News for Steve Jobs and that sentence will appear in some form in nearly every article. There is no doubt he changed the landscape of the tech industry and by extension the world during his time as CEO of Apple.
But just like the primary stockholders of companies such as Microsoft, Wal-Mart and eBay, Apple’s primary stockholders have a moral responsibility to share their fortunes with those in need. Steve Jobs unfortunately fell well short in this regard.
The chief dogs of the aforementioned companies all became philanthropists. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, has retired from Microsoft and moved on to form The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest transparently operated private foundation in the world and has an endowment of almost $40 billion.
Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton was widely criticized for his lack of charitable work during his lifetime, but in the end gave away almost all his fortune and set up endowments for churches across the country. Jeff Skoll, one of the founders of eBay, donated $250 million dollars worth of eBay stock to set up the Skoll Foundation which provides grants to charities across the world.
Jobs, on the other hand, was not a philanthropist. He shut down Apple’s charitable branch when the company was on the verge of bankruptcy in the 90s and never brought it back, even after the company ascended to great financial heights.
Additionally, according to the New York Times, Jobs refused, for reasons unknown, to join the Giving Pledge, the organization founded by Gates and Warren Buffett to persuade the nation’s wealthiest families to pledge to give away at least half their fortunes.
There is speculation that Jobs donated anonymously, but until hard facts are shown, he should be subject to the same criticism other billionaires have faced.Walton, though he waited until 69 to do it, set up the Walton Family Foundation. Before the foundation’s establishment, he faced intense criticism for greediness. Buffet too faced criticism before joining the Giving Pledge.
It seems to this author that because Apple enjoys widespread popularity where Wal-Mart does not, consumers have come to assume the best in Jobs. These assumptions are rooted not in fact but rather in a religious-like devotion to Apple products. Just as many religious fanatics do not question the grace of God, many Apple consumers do not question the grace of Jobs.
For all his technological and entrepreneurial accomplishments, Jobs cannot match Bill Gates’ dedication to solving problems across the globe. Any man worth $8.3 billion, who doesn’t donate a dollar to charity should be subject to inquiry, yet Jobs was able to fly under the radar in ways other billionaires could not.
That said, this article was typed on an Apple computer. Steve Jobs certainly made the world a better place in many regards. Nevertheless, for years, millionaires and billionares have managed to be both innovative and charitable at the same time.
Both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs were some of the richest men in the world. Both lived large while millions suffered and continue to suffer from poverty. But it is Gates and not Jobs who has a record of doing something about it. Jobs may have been a genius, but Gates is a philanthropist, and that is one title Jobs will never have.
Alex Zeldin is a senior AHVA major. He can be reached at [email protected].
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