10 Ways Bill Gates Is Helping the World (and Microsoft)

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-01-27 Print this article Print

News Analysis: Since leaving Microsoft, Bill Gates has been busy with his many philanthropic efforts. He has helped people in Haiti and improved the health of folks in Africa. And now, through those efforts, he's also helping Microsoft improve the company's image and build trust with customers in ways that its products often can't.

Bill Gates might be best known as the co-founder of Microsoft and the world's richest man, but there's a much different side to the Microsoft chairman that the world is getting to know much better. For years, Gates has been a philanthropist, giving money through his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But in recent months, Gates has been more vocal, using his platform to share his thoughts on helping people around the globe, as well as policies that he believes could improve the economy.

As much as that has helped people, it has also helped Microsoft. When Gates left day-to-day operations at Microsoft a few years ago to pursue his philanthropic efforts, some wondered how his reduced presence would affect the software giant. It seems now that it might be one of the company's most important assets. Microsoft has suffered identity issues for years. It has been called a monopoly by some and an egregious giant by others. For many, it is the source of evil in the tech industry.

But by doing his part to help people across the world, Gates has changed how some folks view Microsoft. It might still be the "Evil Empire" to some, but in many ways, Microsoft is benefiting from the work its founder is doing outside of Redmond, Wash.

Let's take a look at what Gates is doing to help the world and, in turn, Microsoft:

1. Money matters

If Bill Gates has anything, he has money. And money is necessary to truly change things for the better. By pumping his own money into several different causes, including most recently the fight to help Haitians affected by the earthquake, Gates is sharing his immense wealth with the people who need it most.

2. Putting intelligence to good use

Whenever Bill Gates sits down to talk about business or economic issues, his intelligence shines through. Make no mistake, Bill Gates is not a man of merely average intelligence. He not only knows how to build a successful software platform, he also understands the underlying issues that will make or break a particular endeavor. That's especially important when one considers his philanthropic efforts. Gates understands the issues surrounding a problem and sets out to find a solution. That's precisely why his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been so successful in bringing better health to people in countries around the world.

3. He knows business

Bill Gates also knows business. Unlike so many other software companies that came before and after, Microsoft was able to build an a lasting empire. Windows, Office and Internet Explorer have entered the vast majority of homes across the world. But by understanding business, Gates is also able to effect change. He can be relied upon to offer solutions to our current economic crisis. Perhaps that's why he has been so vocal lately about the best course of action in bringing jobs back to the United States. He gets business. And it's helping us all.

4. Gates wants to do good

Although some have said that Microsoft is evil, Bill Gates doesn't seem to be anything of the sort. He might be a vicious businessman, but he seems to genuinely want to do good around the world. Through the Bill &Melinda Gates Foundation, countries ranging from Haiti to Kenya have been helped. His organization is even offering $30 million in grant money for "innovative ideas for point-of-care diagnostics." That's not the mark of a man who wants to harm others.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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