The Truth About Steve Jobs and Philanthropy
Steve Jobs has long been criticized for his lack of generosity given his vast wealth. Especially, when compare to someone like Bill Gates, who has poured millions into his Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other charities.
However, this Financial Express piece paints a different picture of Steve Jobs and the philanthropy work he conducts privately. According to Larry Brilliant, a long-time friend of the Jobses and co-founded Seva in 1978, the commonly held belief that Steve Jobs was disinterested in philanthropy and things for the greater good is simply not true.
Jobs got back in touch with Brilliant in the late 1970s, after reading a magazine article about his smallpox efforts in India. By then, Jobs was on his way to becoming a millionaire through Apple, and he wrote a $5,000 check to Brilliant so that he could create the organisation that became Seva, which planned to make cataract surgery widely available to the poor.
A letter from Jobs to one of Brilliant’s Seva co-founders around that time bears the letterhead of Apple Computer with one of its earliest corporate addresses on Bandley Drive in Cupertino, California. “I wholeheartedly accept your invitation to become a ‘member’ of SEVA,” reads the letter, signed by “Steven Jobs”, with the first letter of both names in lowercase. “Please let me know of any other specific opportunities where I can be of service.”
He gave the organisation the computer around 1980, to help Seva enter and analyse survey data from its eye surgeries in Nepal. Jobs threw in a copy of an early spreadsheet program, VisiCalc, and an external hard drive that he boasted was the largest of its kind.