Google as Global Good Samaritan
Google added another notch to its belt as good Samaritan, rolling out five areas it says will be the focus of its Google.org philanthropic front over the next five to 10 years.
Today's news includes $25 million in new grants and investments based on Google's founders pledge to devote 1 percent of the company's equity plus 1 percent of annual profits to philanthropy.
Here is the list of Google's grants for specific focus areas, which include efforts to address global pandemics, global security, climate change, poverty and renewable energy. The company plans to spend up to $175 million in its first round of grants and investments over the next three years.
As of today, Google.org has dished out a total of $75.4 million grants since 2004. The organization has a ways to go before it rises to the humanitarian heights of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has doled out nearly $14.5 billion in grants for poverty and global health issues since its inception in 1994.
I applaud Google's efforts, but what confuses me is that the company tries to tie in its work as a search engine and Internet platform to the philanthropy, as today's statement notes: "these initiatives draw upon Google's strengths in access to information and scalable technology."
When I think of scalable technology at Google, I think of cloud computing. How will cloud computing solve world hunger?
Moreo broadly, how can search, OpenSocial, Analytics and Apps help fend off global warming or protect against SARS? If I want to learn more about avoiding SARS, I might do a Google search. Is that what the tie is?
No, the money is the key. But that's OK. We can forgive them for a bit of marketing largesse, so long as the largesse extends to financial capital for these global threats and challenges.
About the money: $25 million is not generally considered a small sum either... unless you're talking about global proportions. For a company of Google's market cap, which today sits at $191 billion, a more lofty investment -- I'm thinking a quarterly round of $1 billion -- would be a more meaningful declaration of humanitarian concerns.
For a company that made in the neighborhood of $16 billion in online advertising alone last year, $1 billion every few months to fight poverty and other issues wouldn't hurt.
Unless, of course, Google has bigger plans for that money. (insert acquisition target here: ____ ) Salesforce.com anyone?