Sunday, October 09, 2011

Steve Jobs, World's Greatest Philanthropist

From Dan Pollatta writing in Harvard Business Review blog:

"What a loss to humanity it would have been if Jobs had dedicated the last 25 years of his life to figuring out how to give his billions away, instead of doing what he does best.

We'd still be waiting for a cell phone on which we could actually read e-mail and surf the web. "We" includes students, doctors, nurses, aid workers, charity leaders, social workers, and so on. It helps the blind read text and identify currency. It helps physicians improve their performance and surgeons improve their practice. It even helps charities raise money.

We'd be a decade or more away from the iPad, which has ushered in an era of reading electronically that promises to save a Sherwood Forest worth of trees and all of the energy associated with trucking them around. That's just the beginning. Doctors are using the iPad to improve healthcare. It's being used to lessen the symptoms of autism, to improve kids' creativity, and to revolutionize medical training.

And you can't say someone else would have developed these things. No one until Jobs did, and the competitive devices that have come since have taken the entirety of their inspiration from his creation.

We would be without the 34,000 full-time jobs Apple has created, just within Apple, not to mention all of the manufacturing jobs it has created for those who would otherwise live in poverty.

We would be without the wealth it has created for millions of Americans who have invested in the company.

We would be without video conferencing for the masses that actually works. Computers that don't keep crashing. Who can estimate the value of the wasted time that didn't get wasted?

We would be without a whole new way of thinking. About computers. Leadership. Business. Our very potential."

HT: David Boaz via Don Boudreaux

35 Comments:

At 10/09/2011 11:24 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Philanthropy is not what you do for profit.

 
At 10/09/2011 11:28 AM, Blogger BxCapricorn said...

Off topic. Have you ever thought of tracking Suez Canal traffic as an indicator, the way you use Trucking and Rail? The BDI may be similar but so much of that indicator is influenced by ship count and future build completion. The Suez Canal numbers are found here:

http://www.suezcanal.gov.eg/reports.aspx

Great blog and thank you for the information you share.

 
At 10/09/2011 11:29 AM, Blogger Gulraiz23 said...

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At 10/09/2011 11:58 AM, Blogger truth or consequences said...

I'm at a REAL loss as to what point the writer is trying to be make here.....

The writer seems to suggest that the Iphone or Ipad would NEVER have been invented/produced if not for Jobs. I don't buy it. Jobs was just the first to come up with the idea/product....Congratulations Steve and good for you!

Does anybody think that if Henry Ford had never been born we would still be riding around in horse drawn carriages and the assembly line would NEVER have been developed????

Of course not...mass produced cars would just have arrived a little later.

While the death of anybody is unfortunate (and inevitable BTW)...I find the coverage of Jobs this past week a little "over the top"...

Great guy, great innovator....but hey, putting a thousand songs in something the size of a matchbook is not finding the cure for cancer...or finding the way to make wars obsolete.

"The media IS the message".

 
At 10/09/2011 12:55 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Steve Jobs Philanthropist gift:

Endows Apple, Inc with four more generations of products!

 
At 10/09/2011 1:20 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Steve Jobs Philanthropic Gift cont'd:

Endows Apple University with virtual DNA cloning program for generations!

 
At 10/09/2011 2:42 PM, Blogger Jon said...

But would any of this have been possible without LSD? Steve Jobs didn't seem to think so.

http://politics.salon.com/2011/10/08/steve_jobs_and_drug_policy/

 
At 10/09/2011 3:24 PM, Blogger Seth said...

"I'm at a REAL loss as to what point the writer is trying to be make here..."-truth or consequences

The point was that Jobs produced more value for the world by pursuing his interests than he likely would have if he had donated all of his early wealth to charity. Many times the best way to help others is to do what we do best.

 
At 10/09/2011 4:16 PM, Blogger Zachriel said...

There is no doubt that work can be one of the most important contributions people can make. That doesn't absolve them of other responsibilities, such as playing ball with the kid, or helping out at the soup kitchen, but everyone's situation is different.

 
At 10/09/2011 7:11 PM, Blogger Itchy said...

Apparently Steve Jobs agrees with the writer too:

"It was one of the first times I started to realize that maybe Thomas Edison did a lot more to improve the world than Karl Marx and Neem Kairolie Bab put together."

 
At 10/09/2011 7:59 PM, OpenID Sprewell said...

truthorcon, nobody used the word "never" except you. The author clearly talks about the years or decade longer it would have taken for certain things to happen. Of course everything would be invented eventually anyway: what guys like Edison or Jobs do is bring it here much earlier. Maybe a tablet wouldn't have taken another decade like the author thinks, but we know it probably wouldn't have come out last year, because nobody else has sold as many tablets as the iPad since. I agree that Jobs is overhyped- I think Apple is overdue for a massive collapse- but your bar is too high also. A cure for cancer or end to wars? Please, get your head out of the clouds, speeding up the pace of technical adoption is plenty good enough. :)

 
At 10/09/2011 8:59 PM, Blogger aorod said...

Steve jobs did not invent the iPad or the cellphone or any of those things you mentioned. But he brought them to market first, with all those bells and whistles, and charged a premium price. His ability to maintain high quality and rush products to market was his main strength.

 
At 10/09/2011 9:00 PM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

While I appreciate the dig at Bill Gates, the fact remains that up until he got married, he was still winning double-blind programming challenges and doing so in Basic. So, he has cred. Steve Jobs could not code his way out of a wet paper bag. Nor did he need to. His strengths were measured by different standards entirely. And so, too, with his weaknesses ... lest we forget why the Mac 1.0 was called the Lisa.

But, admittedly, Gates and Jobs are/were men of different visions.

For some reason, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie ended up enemies, and not so much the men themselves, as their minions. After their deaths, their Foundations carried the feud to new levels, giving or not, endowing or not, based on rivalry unrelated to the merits of the petitions.

Blogging as we all do, we need springboards for our ideas. The passing of Steve Jobs generated a lot of bits and bytes .. and perhaps more zeroes than ones.

 
At 10/09/2011 9:03 PM, Blogger Michael E. Marotta said...

While I appreciate the dig at Bill Gates, the fact remains that up until he got married, he was still winning double-blind programming challenges and doing so in Basic. So, he has cred. Steve Jobs could not code his way out of a wet paper bag. Nor did he need to. His strengths were measured by different standards entirely. And so, too, with his weaknesses ... lest we forget why the Mac 1.0 was called the Lisa.

But, admittedly, Gates and Jobs are/were men of different visions.

For some reason, John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie ended up enemies, and not so much the men themselves, as their minions. After their deaths, their Foundations carried the feud to new levels, giving or not, endowing or not, based on rivalry unrelated to the merits of the petitions.

Blogging as we all do, we need springboards for our ideas. The passing of Steve Jobs generated a lot of bits and bytes .. and perhaps more zeroes than ones.

 
At 10/09/2011 10:47 PM, Blogger RjLais said...

Jobs created jobs--which is the greatest philanthropic gift you can give to the world.

 
At 10/09/2011 11:50 PM, Blogger Benjamin said...

Why does it seem like Apple was run by and for liberals and Microsoft was the GOP?

 
At 10/10/2011 2:19 AM, Blogger juandos said...

I understand what Pollatta wants to say about Jobs and his actions with Apple's digital product lines...

Only one minor problem though, there's nothing in the Apple line of hardware that is actually original with Apple...

Did Apple improve some of the hardware already out there? Of course and put lots of people to work doing it...

I just don't think Pollatta had a real firm grasp of what else was happening in the digital hardware field...

 
At 10/10/2011 9:53 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

Benjamin: "Why does it seem like Apple was run by and for liberals and Microsoft was the GOP?"

I didn't have that impression. But I did a little research and discovered:

99.9% of Jobs' political contributions were to Democrats;

80% of Gates' political contributions were to Republicans.

However, I'm pretty certain that both Democrats and Republicans have bought billions of dollars in products from both of the companies.

 
At 10/10/2011 9:56 AM, Blogger Hydra said...

Jobs created jobs--which is the greatest philanthropic gift you can give to the world.

=================================

Jobs are not philanthropy. AQ job is a deal in which the employer gets work which he can sell for more than he pays, and the employee gets paid (ostensibly) more for the work than he could get paid working alone.

 
At 10/10/2011 10:00 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

juandos: "Only one minor problem though, there's nothing in the Apple line of hardware that is actually original with Apple..."

It takes one set of skills to invent products. It takes an entirely different set of skills:

- to determine the vision of the market for those products;
- to sell the products and vision to that market;
- to ensure quality in product and service; and
- to make the product available to all the world at a reasonable price.

As far as I am concerned, the second set of skills is far more valuable than the first for almost all products which have been offerred to humankind.

 
At 10/10/2011 10:20 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

hydra: "Jobs are not philanthropy."

Although most people assume that definition is limited to acts of selfless charity, I do not see it that way.

According to Merriam Websters, philanthropy is defined as:

"active effort to promote human welfare"

or

"an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes"

FedEx's Fred Smith and Southwest Airline's Herb Kelleher, among other business giants, actively promoted the welfare of their employees. I have known both men, and I am certain that ensuring the jobs of their employees was of paramount importance to each one.

 
At 10/10/2011 12:08 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 10/10/2011 12:10 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...

The way that Apple has been, he is far from saintly.

Whether it's:

* Foxconn suicides
* Having an unconstitutional relationship with the SFPD for pursuing a prototype
* Products that are less open/less maintenance friendly than their competitors
* generally having something that is broken by design

...Apple has a very unclean record. One can only hope that the passing of Jobs marks the end of those kinds of deeds. The direction that Sculley took with Apple is the direction that would undo those practices - while growing the company.

 
At 10/10/2011 1:11 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"As far as I am concerned, the second set of skills is far more valuable than the first for almost all products which have been offerred to humankind"...

Amen Beagle Boy!! You nailed it squarely!

Jobs was most definitely the preeminent sales person of our time...

Consider the beginning where it was obvious that Wozniak was Apple's technical tour de force but without Jobs packaging Woz's genius just right Woz would have been another in a very long line of very bright people who passed through the Valley hardly leaving a ripple...

 
At 10/10/2011 1:13 PM, Blogger juandos said...

Hey sethstorm, nice fairy tale but can any of it be backed up credibly?

 
At 10/10/2011 1:58 PM, Blogger rjs said...

[Jobs] told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life. He said there were things about him that people who had not tried psychedelics — even people who knew him well, including his wife — could never understand. Unlike many people who have enjoyed success, Jobs is not saying that he was able to succeed despite his illegal drug use; he’s saying his success is in part — in substantial part — because of those illegal drugs (he added that Bill Gates would “be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once”).

http://politics.salon.com/2011/10/08/steve_jobs_and_drug_policy/singleton/

 
At 10/10/2011 3:35 PM, Blogger sethstorm said...


juandos said...


Deny the truth about Apple all you want, but it won't help you.

 
At 10/10/2011 5:43 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

juandos: "Consider the beginning where it was obvious that Wozniak was Apple's technical tour de force but without Jobs packaging Woz's genius just right Woz would have been another in a very long line of very bright people who passed through the Valley hardly leaving a ripple..."

Darn, and I thought his big claim to fame was his stint on "Dancing With the Stars". :)

At that time, I recall commenting to my wife that his net worth was most likely greater than that of everyone else in the room combined.

 
At 10/10/2011 5:45 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

sethstorm: "juandos said...

Deny the truth about Apple all you want, but it won't help you.
"

You didn't answer his question.

 
At 10/10/2011 8:17 PM, Blogger Dave Spaulding said...

Excellent! I posted this on Facebook and Linkedin. What a loss

 
At 10/10/2011 9:54 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

"active effort to promote human welfare"

================================

When you hire someone,it is not to help them, it is to help YOU.

I suppose you can argue that in the end, both parties are helped, and therefore human welfare is helped.

But that is the case any time a deal is struck: both parties are better off, or else generally, there is no deal.

Are you then asrgueing that every transaction is a case of philanthropy, since human welfare is improved?

I don't think that is a very useful definition, or the one that is commonly understood. I would argue that philanthropy is generally understood to mean giving, in the sense of tangibly giving more than one tangibly recieves in return.

Smith and Kelleher, like most employers are genuinely interested in the welfare of their employees, but only so far as the employees provide the revenue that enables them to be concerned.

Looking after your resources is good business sense, but it is not philanthropy.


If employers are employing people out of the goodness of their heart, then why do we have high unemployment?

 
At 10/10/2011 10:01 PM, Blogger Hydra said...

Jobs was most definitely the preeminent sales person of our time...

==============================

Jobs never sold me anything, but walmart has.

I would say Walton was the better salesman.

Bin Laden would have to be right up there, too. How do you sell someone on blowing themselves up?

Then of course there is Ken Lay and Bernie Madoff, who were able to sell thin air.


Selling fancy baubles is childs play by comparison.

 
At 10/10/2011 10:58 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Bin Laden would have to be right up there, too. How do you sell someone on blowing themselves up?"

By appealing to patriotism. This appeal can cause otherwise sensible people to travel half way around the world to expose themselves to live weapons fire, and random unexpected explosions along the roadways.

Sacrificing oneself to cause great harm to an enemy is most often employed by those who have no hope of defeating that enemy militarily.

 
At 10/11/2011 8:50 AM, Blogger Jet Beagle said...

hydra: "Smith and Kelleher, like most employers are genuinely interested in the welfare of their employees, but only so far as the employees provide the revenue that enables them to be concerned."

You do not know what the F*** you are talking about. I have personally known both men - sat beside each one at tables and discussed what they really value. I have watched them up close in action. You do not know anything about them.

 
At 10/13/2011 12:39 AM, Blogger juandos said...

"Jobs never sold me anything, but walmart has"...

Ever buy any 'Apple baubles' via Walmart hydra?

"I would say Walton was the better salesman"...

Well there's no doubt that Walton was pretty good at the game of salesmenship too but unlike Apple Walmart also sold day to day necessities, something Apple didn't...

Still Steve Jobs was able to convince a whole lot of people to buy the 'unnecessary baubles' at prices somewhat higher than his competition had for sale...

So when it comes down to pure salesmenship I do believe Jobs was far and away number one...

 

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