Gates vs. Jobs: A Different Take

I’m an unabashed Apple fan and Mac user, but this column on Wired News by Leander Kahney is quite an interesting read, talking about Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, their success, their charitable works, and their images.

Gates is the cutthroat capitalist. A genius maybe, but one more interested in maximizing profits than perfecting technology. He’s the ultimate vengeful nerd. Ostracized at school, he gets the last laugh by bleeding us all dry.
On the other hand, Jobs has never seemed much concerned with business, though he’s been very successful at it of late. Instead, Jobs has been portrayed as a man of art and culture. He’s an aesthete, an artist; driven to make a dent in the universe.
But these perceptions are wrong. In fact, the reality is reversed. It’s Gates who’s making a dent in the universe, and Jobs who’s taking on the role of single-minded capitalist, seemingly oblivious to the broader needs of society.
Gates is giving away his fortune with the same gusto he spent acquiring it, throwing billions of dollars at solving global health problems. He has also spoken out on major policy issues, for example, by opposing proposals to cut back the inheritance tax.
In contrast, Jobs does not appear on any charitable contribution lists of note. And Jobs has said nary a word on behalf of important social issues, reserving his talents of persuasion for selling Apple products.

While Kahney admits it’s certainly possible that Jobs may be more private in his giving, he believes there’s a disconnect there–especially considering Apple’s past advertising.

To the best of my knowledge, in the last decade or more, Jobs has not spoken up on any social or political issue he believes in — with the exception of admitting he’s a big Bob Dylan fan.
Rather, he uses social issues to support his own selfish business goals. In the Think Different campaign, Jobs used cultural figures he admired to sell computers — figures who stuck their necks out to fight racism, poverty, inequality or war.

This brings up lots of interesting questions. Has Gates’ very public charity efforts been his way of making Microsoft seem less evil? Should Jobs do more personally to reflect the iconoclastic Apple brand he’s built? Do either of these guys have any responsibility at all to give back to the community?

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. It would seem that Gates has been giving back to the world as a whole for the past few years (started off as computers for libraries & schools — progressed to helping AIDS patients in Africa, malaria, etc.) — while Steve has been perfecting his turtleneck look and pimping out Pixar to Disney.
    If only Steve spent some of that time actually developing a computer (for what he is supposed to be known for) worth even half a damn – Apple Computer = paperweight for the world.
    that being said — the iPod is brilliant – except for the lame battery replacement — or in my case — it completely dying after 15 months for no reason

  2. slumber support says:

    Steves and Bills.
    Growing up there were usually two or three in each of my grade school classes. When they would all have to compete for attention on non-attention? Poor guys.
    I hope that all the Steves and Bills that I have ever known answer to their own gods and selves. I hope they all get a good night’s sleep.