...even despite Microsoft's history, I find it almost impossible to remain cynical about Bill Gates's intentions. I think he's changed. Maybe when you're in your 50's, you start to think about how you'll be remembered.It's easy to compare Bill Gates to Paul Allen, his Microsoft co-founder. Allen gets a lot of attention here in Portland because he owns the only pro sports team in town, the lowly basketball Trailblazers. He also owns the Seattle Seahawks football team, and the world's largest yacht, which is 416 feet long.
It'd be one thing if he were retiring to enjoy his fortune, or if he were using it to buy football teams or political candidates. But he's not. He's channeling those billions to the places in the world where that money can do the most good. And not just throwing money at the problems, either--he's also dedicating the second act of his life to making sure it's done right.
In fact, when you step back far enough, Mr. Gates's entire life arc suddenly looks like a 35-year game of Robin Hood, a gigantic wealth-redistribution system on a global scale.
I know this is going to earn me the vitriol of Microsoft-bashers, but I'll say it anyway: Bill Gates has the money, the brains and the connections to really, truly make the world a better place. I admire him for the attempt. And I believe that if anyone can succeed, he will.
Just to give you something to compare Bill Gates to, Allen, who is worth about $18 billion, this past winter approached the city of Portland about bailing out his basketball team to the tune of a few hundred million dollars. Really.