(a) Establishing a Buffet Children Savings Account –> WRONG
(b) Establishing a Buffet Private Equity or Hedge Fund –> WRONG
(c) Establishing a philanthropic Buffet Foundation –> WRONG
(d) Donating it to someone else’s foundation –> CORRECT
Yes, the second richest man on earth has decided to donate most of his wealth, currently estimated donation at $37 billion, to a foundation that will not even carry his name. It just so happens that the foundation does, however, carry the name of his close friend and the richest man on earth – William H. Gates. With their philosophies on philanthropy aligned, and their financial hoo-haa put together, a tremendous lot can be done to improve the lives of people around the world. While reading through a news clipping, I noticed that 1.7 million children’s lives were saved directly due to the Gates’ Foundations’ vaccination programs. How many of us can claim to have had that impact on humanity? Long live the Gates legacy (of the philanthropic sort, that is).
These businesses geniuses could have done so many things together to disrupt any sphere where they chose to exert influence. Imagine what havoc they could wreak if they entered venture capital community, private equity community, or simply decided to exert influence on money losers like Ford and GM. But no, they chose a higher ground and demonstrated a philosophy that my dear friend Nikolay (who I hope one day would also hold billions in his bank accounts) espouses all the time. They chose not to leave their kids as multi-billionaires and forever advantaged over the others who would have to compete with them, but plowed their wealth back into the world that provided them with such great opportunities so others with different last names could have some hope as well. I was always a fan of the business genuis of these two, now I am a personal fan as well.
Now I question what would some of the rich people from developing parts of the world do to follow this lead? Not to name people and put them on spot (like they care what I have to say!), but let’s not forget India has its own Steel giant Lakshmi Mittal who showed up on the top 10 richest people list last year with a personal wealth of over $25 billion. What would he do to improve the lot of struggling 1 billion plus Indians? And would he extend his philanthropy across the borders to his neighbors in South Asia? I really hope so. I pray so.