Thursday, March 19, 2015

Microsoft Ebola

I know, after reading the subject line, you are thinking that I have indeed gone completely insane.  But, there is a method to my madness, if you pardon the atrocious pun here ;)

Recall the names of the dudes who founded Microsoft?


Sure, you know that guy on the right as Bill Gates.  The co-founder?  Ok, ok, you know it is Paul Allen.  (Do you know the names of the two dudes who started Google?  Aha, I got you there!)

So, what about Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Ebola?  I told you that there is always a method to my madness.

In the NY Times, Gates had authored an op-ed:
The Ebola epidemic in West Africa has killed more than 10,000 people. If anything good can come from this continuing tragedy, it is that Ebola can awaken the world to a sobering fact: We are simply not prepared to deal with a global epidemic.
More than 10,000 dead.  From a disease. Caused by a virus. Yet, we--in the US and the rest of the world as well--pretty much don't care.  Which is all the more why Gates reminds us even if we care not about the 10,000 dead, and the epidemic that continues to infect people, well, perhaps we will at least take notice if we think that we too might get affected by some global epidemic.
Of all the things that could kill more than 10 million people around the world in the coming years, by far the most likely is an epidemic. But it almost certainly won’t be Ebola. As awful as it is, Ebola spreads only through physical contact, and by the time patients can infect other people, they are already showing symptoms of the disease, which makes them relatively easy to identify.
Other diseases — flu, for example — spread through the air, and people can be infectious before they feel sick, which means that one person can infect many strangers just by going to a public place.
Are you listening now?
I believe that we can solve this problem, just as we’ve solved many others — with ingenuity and innovation.
As committed as he is to the cause, it requires more than well-funded nonprofit organizations and foundations.

Meanwhile, the other co-founder, Allen, has been spending on Ebola, according to this piece that the friend passed along to me:
Paul Allen reportedly began tracking the current Ebola outbreak before a lot of governments saw it as a serious threat because of his work on wildlife conservation in Africa. As well, Allen’s philanthropic focus has been shifting and expanding over the last few years to include new issues, which makes sense for a guy who has $17 billion, has signed the Giving Pledge, and isn't getting any younger. So, all in all, it wasn't so bizarre that Allen jumped into the Ebola crisis with a boatload of cash for frontline work to contain epidemic. 
Yep, the same Paul Allen who makes the road-tripping sports maniac all pumped up ;)
By late October, Allen had upped his commitment to $100 million, making it the largest private contribution to combat the Ebola crisis. Allen’s big give was surprising and a bit shocking because his previous philanthropy had never touched humanitarian or global health issues before.
Allen and Gates understand all too well that to fight Ebola means more than merely fighting the virus alone.  So,
Paul Allen is not going to pocket the unspent Ebola money now that people aren't dying anymore and move on to something else. On the contrary, he may dive deeper into the troubled healthcare systems of West Africa, spending even more money. 
Aren't you now happy that these two nerds founded a small little company called Microsoft?

If only the local business billionaire, who has more money than Allen, funded worthwhile causes like this instead of this!


Anne in Salem said...

Power to the nerds!!! Gives the rest of us hope.

When I lived in Seattle, people were appalled that Bill Gates said he would give away 90% of his fortune, leaving 10% for his children. Somehow people thought that was unfair to the children, as if somehow $4B each wasn't enough for the kids to live on. He could give away 99% of his wealth, and his kids would still be at the top of the 1%.

I wonder sometimes about the scale of their donations. If mere mortals see Gates and Allen donating $100M, will there be less motivation to donate $25 because it is seen as pointless compared to the large donations? As in, what good can $25 do compared to $100M or even $1M? Regardless, bravo to them for helping so many people in the world with their vast (unimaginable) wealth.

Sriram Khé said...

Ah, yes, there is a story from the old country about this very issue of $25 donation versus the million dollars ... I say story but it is from the epic, Ramayana. About how the squirrel earned its stripes.
I located a site for you to read up ;)

Power to the nerds, yes. And also to the little guys ;)

Ramesh said...

Saint Gates of Seattle.

Brother Paul has some way to go before the Pope will look at him.

Sriram Khé said...

But, but ... I thought you would rule that Paul Allen is THE Pope thanks to all his investment in sports that you are soooooooooooooooooo fond of ;)

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