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Give it Away, Give it Away, Give it Away Now!

Bill Gates can be infectious. No, he doesn't have the swine flu. I mean his personality influences others. Nearly two decades ago, I noticed that Microsoft folks used many Gates-isms, such as bandwidth (for ability to think broadly) and golden. Others adopted his mannerisms: the haircut, the glasses, some even bobbed up and down as they sat -- just like Bill.

Bill is having a similar effect on the billionaires' club. First, Warren Buffett joined Bill and vowed to give away the bulk of his vast fortune. Now, former partner Paul Allen is doing the same, pledging most of his $13.5 billion bank account.

Hot buttons for Allen include fighting tuberculosis (a Gatesean move, to be sure) as well as brain exploration. So far, Allen has given away a cool billion.

I expect to see more of these types of Andrew Carnegie-type moves. This type of giving may well be more effective than other charities and clearly more efficient that government-based programs since the givers, as businessmen, are driven 100 percent by results.

Is this true charity, or just a way for successful business people to feel better about themselves? Look into your heart and write to dbarney@redmondmag.com.

Posted by Doug Barney on July 30, 2010 at 11:53 AM