What Would You Do With $32.7 Billion?

We know what Larry Page would do.

Earlier this year, Google CEO Larry Page boldly stated that when he dies, he’d rather give his billions to Elon Musk than to charity.

This is an interesting notion.  For starters, most people probably wouldn’t publicly announce such an idea, even if they were thinking it.  Moreover, there is really no great incentive for Page to compliment Musk in such a manner, which lends me to believe he actually means what he is saying.

Keep in mind – this is no small sum.  At an estimated net worth of $32.7 billion as of July 2014, Page was named by Bloomberg as the 17th richest man in the world.

Larry_Page_Google

“Most people think companies are basically evil.  They get a bad rap.  And I think that’s somewhat correct.  Companies are doing the same incremental thing that they did 50 years ago, 20 years ago.  That’s not really what we need…we need revolutionary change, not incremental change.” (Larry Page)

To give credit where credit is due, Elon Musk somewhat defines the term revolutionary.

As CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors, CEO/CTO of SpaceX, Chairman of SolarCity, Founder of Zip2, and Co-Founder of PayPal, the billionaire tech guru has had no shortage of ideas. His latest mission is to enable sustainable life on Mars.  That’s right…as in, a different planet.

Merill Lynch calls him “the next Steve Jobs”.  Business Insider claims that Musk is “the closet thing we’ve got to a superhero”.  And rumor has it that Jon Favreau (director of Iron Man) used Musk as a muse for character Tony Stark.

Yes, Elon Musk is somewhat of a superhero, astounding the world with his innovations. That in itself is irrefutable.

But what’s frightening is that this century’s business leaders would rather advance space travel and fast cars than remedy true social deficiencies.  Admittedly, this is a generalization based on one man’s words.  But history reveals that certain leaders have the power to pave the way for other decision-makers…and when it rains, it pours.

What about the 250 million children worldwide who lack reading, writing, and arithmetic skills?  What about the 1.2 billion people who live in extreme poverty?  What about the 2.6 million children who die from starvation each year?

It begs one to hope that Page might rethink his allocations before finalizing that will.

2 thoughts on “What Would You Do With $32.7 Billion?

  1. Seems like Page is taking a page (sorry for the pun) from Warren Buffett, who’s leaving much of his $$ to the Bill Gates Foundation. Difference of course is that Page is saying he’ll give it to Musk’s for profit business rather than a Musk Foundation (does such a thing exist?)…But it’s of a piece, right? Seems to me Page needs an intervention (maybe from The Sustainable Investor) that would say diversify–some to Musk, some to Gates, etc.

    And on Musk, maybe Page could specify that his $$ only go to the Musk businesses that meet certain societal needs (i.e. fighting climate change) (OK these are MY priorities but it’s worth a shot). Then he’d be funding Tesla, the super fast, air-powered rail from LA to SF and so on, rather than the Mars stuff.

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  2. I have mixed emotions here. What about pressing social needs that are not tied to technological innovation? What about education, health and poverty?

    Gates is giving to World health and education.

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