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Ringing a Bell

The Nasdaq stockmarket honoured the book yesterday by inviting Matthew to ring the closing bell. It was great to see “Philanthrocapitalism” up in lights in Times Square! Oddly, this did not prevent the Nasdaq index falling.

Nasdaq has played an important role in philanthrocapitalism, by hosting the initial public offerings of several companies whose leaders have gone on to be some of today’s most innovative givers, including Microsoft (Bill Gates), eBay (Pierre Omidyar), Intel (Gordon Moore) and Google (Sergey Brin and Larry Page).

As we point out in the book, the ability of entrepreneurs to sell shares relatively early in the life of the companies they create has freed many of them to become serious philanthropists at a relatively early age. Back in Andrew Carnegie’s day, before there were big liquid stock markets, that was much harder, and so money remained locked inside a firm for many years that nowadays can be liberated and given away.

Nasdaq has played a particularly important role in allowing entrepreneurs to take out some of their money, providing a place where companies that were too young and too small to be welcomed by the New York Stock Exchange could IPO. One of the consequences of the recent meltdown in financial markets has been an almost total collapse of the IPO market – a development that is surely bad for philanthrocapitalism. Unfortunately, as it tends to be at least nine months after the stockmarket as a whole starts to recover before the IPO market reopens, it may be a while before today’s unlisted entrepreneurs get the chance to follow in the philanthropic footsteps of Gates and the other Nasdaq billionaires.

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