Burnishing Microsofts Image with Good Works

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-01-27

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

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.

Burnishing Microsofts Image with Good Works

5. He enlists the help of others

Bill Gates realizes that he's just one piece of a much larger puzzle. That's why he has spent so much time enlisting others to assist him in his efforts. In 2006, for example, Warren Buffett offered about $30 billion in Berkshire Hathaway shares to help the efforts of Gates' foundation. The funds donated so far by Berkshire Hathaway have been used to help people across the globe. Gates knows his place. He knows that he can't do it alone. And more and more, Microsoft is starting to learn that, as well.

6. The economy affects everyone

Bill Gates might be the world's richest man, but his latest discussions of how to fix the economy could have a profound impact on the world. As mentioned above, Gates knows business and understands how government plays a role in the success or failure of individuals and companies. By attempting to bridge that gap between the corporate world and politics, Gates has achieved two goals: He can share his expertise on and rationale about how to hasten the economy's recovery and, at the same time, protect Microsoft's interests. For some, that might be troublesome. But after further inspection, we might find that the sooner Microsoft awakes from its malaise, the sooner the tech industry will rebound.

7. He's trusted

Microsoft is lacking when it comes to the public's trust. Security has continued to be a thorn in its side. But Bill Gates has quickly become a trusted figure, both in philanthropic and business circles. His work has helped people. His ideas have given governments options that they might not have thought about. The more Gates uses that trust for good, the more people might trust Microsoft just a little more.

8. He uses his platform

Part of the reason why Bill Gates is so capable as a philanthropist is his notoriety. Through Microsoft and his stature as the world's richest person, Gates has built a name for himself that transcends the tech industry. That has played an important role in his efforts to change the world. Philanthropy is about knowledge. If people haven't heard of you, they won't likely give you the money you need. If they have, they just might. Gates is using that notoriety for good. It helps him raise money. It helps him attract corporate funding. And it helps Microsoft show a softer, nicer side.

9. Gates won't stop

When it comes to philanthropic efforts, having a goal is a must. Bill Gates' goals might be to help developing countries feed the hungry and improve health care, but those problems won't likely be solved any time soon. Gates' hopes are grand, but he's driven and he knows what he wants to achieve. Until he gets there, his efforts won't cease. And in the process, all those folks that he's helping will reap the benefits of those efforts.

10. Change is viral

When Bill Gates started his foundation with his wife, there was no way of knowing how influential it would be. Today, the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation is helping children and adults all over the world. That success has snowballed in recent years. The foundation and Gates have found that the more good they've done, the more people it affects. More money is raised, more folks take notice and, most importantly, more people are helped.

All the while, Microsoft is benefiting too. A part of that change can be attributed to Bill Gates' efforts outside of Microsoft. Bill Gates is inextricably tied to Microsoft and Microsoft to Gates. The more good he does, the better Microsoft looks.

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