Bill Gates has just finished reading Philanthrocapitalism – and he says he likes it! Gates told Matthew yesterday in a meeting (more about which in future blog posts) that “your book is good. Anyone who reads it will learn a lot about what is going on.”
He had two main criticisms. First, that in our reporting about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we wrote all about him and largely ignored his wife. Of course, he may just be being a gallant husband, but he probably has a point. Our main reference to Melinda is to report a rumour that her Catholicism may have led the foundation to avoid the issue of reproductive rights (ie. abortion) in its global health activities. But she has been heavily involved in shaping the foundation over the years, perhaps more so in some ways than Bill until his recent decision to become a full time philanthrocapitalist.
Second, philanthrocapitalism is not as monolithic as we paint it – there are lots of different people and approaches to philanthropy that we group together under one label. This seems to be a common criticism, especially from philanthropists, who each seem to like to regard themselves as unique. Our view is that this diversity of approaches is a key feature of philanthrocapitalism, just as it is of capitalism, ensuring that there is plenty of experimentation and risk taking, which gives the best chance of the best ideas being tried and proving themselves.
Gates is confident that the trend for a diverse group of wealthy people to get involved in philanthropy will continue long after the current economic crisis is past.