By Dan McLean
As he fades into the sunset of IT retirement Bill Gates definitely deserves to be remembered as a man of great philanthropy, rather than the IT visionary that many seem to give him credit for.
As an IT journalist for 15 years, I can’t recall one occasion where I thought Bill Gates said anything truly inspiring about IT. Definitely nothing that most of us who followed the industry didn’t already know. Certainly nothing that was exceedingly insightful – something I would have expected to hear from IT’s most famous founding father. The fact is that Bill was mostly pretty dull and seemingly uninspired when discussing IT. He certainly wasn’t dynamic and hardly the overtly passionate tech nerd that he’d often been portrayed as being. Yet Bill is an IT superstar, albeit duller than a butter knife. Over the years, Bill could pack them in like nobody’s business at keynotes, conventions and many other events happening around the globe. During most of his tech diatribes, however, Bill never really had much to say.
Most Bill Gates speeches sounded like Microsoft product commercials. Bill’s public discussions were typically pretty generalized – jibber about connected devices, connected people, connected ideas, a connected world, the power of the Internet, IT and innovation, empowerment. Blah, blah, blah! There was never anything too specific or revealing and mostly an espoused viewpoint that Microsoft was leading the way towards these vague notions. A good-sounding commercial but little else.
But Bill Gates is one hell of a human being and that’s where he’ll leave his most indelible mark.
The thing that most impresses me about Bill is his philanthropy and generosity. It’s the good social work that Bill and Melissa Gates do that’s truly inspirational. They’ve donated tens of billions of dollars throughout the years. Through his Foundation, Bill and Melinda provide enormous monetary grants for education, AIDS research and prevention, as well as programs that support global health and learning, and much more. His generosity is enlightening and has inspired others of such means to do likewise. Bill’s legacy as he moves into “retirement” will perhaps be as a civil-rights spokesperson and the greatest humanitarian in history. Something he’ll undoubtedly be focused on doing for the remainder of his years.
That’s something to be remembered for.