Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Creative Capitalism

With an Recession officially under our belts, massive global uncertainty, and volatile capital markets, perhaps now is as good a time as any to revisit the traditional capitalistic model of making money. Earlier this year, Bill Gates delivered a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, entitled "Creative Capitalism." You can view his speech, which is about 20 minutes with an additional 10 minute Q & A, by clicking on the link below.


In his speech, Gates calls for a new form of capitalism whereby businesses focus some of it's efforts and resources towards eradicating the world's largest inequalities (i.e. Malaria, AIDS, Education, etc.). His speech received a warm response from the forum but was largely ignored by the global community (except for Warren Buffet and U2's Bono). However, yesterday on the Diane Rehm show, NPR featured a book called "Creative Capitalism" which is a compilation of essays and responses by some of the World's leading economists, legislators, and business executives on whether Gates' new business model, focusing on the global poor, could succeed. I looked through the table of contents and couldn't wait to read it. It takes a very "Hey, this is what he said to what you wrote, do you want to respond?" mentality which makes for some very passionate writing.

Gates' speech is worth listening to, if for no other reason than the fact that the majority of the fortunes of the two wealthiest men on the globe will be deployed to combat or solve some of these maladies. But what do you all think? Who is responsible for solving some of these problems? If it adversely effects shareholders, should businesses be required to direct valuable time and money to alleviate the spread of malaria in Africa? Is there a problem with how "shareholder value" is defined and should it attempt to quantify the value of a company's social impact? And what about Gates himself, he made his billions thanks to the current free market system. Over the last 20 years, he spent his valuable time working on building a global giant, watching every penny to get Microsoft to where it is today.

But what does everyone think? I would like to get your feedback.

No comments: