steve jobs

Will Steve Jobs Leave a Philanthropic Legacy?

Steve Jobs’s legacy as a businessman, visionary, and tech pioneer is firmly in place. He has made, to be blunt about it, a real boatload of money in his career. (Estimated net worth: $8.3 billion.) But the question is: What will he do with it?

Unlike many of his ultra-ultrawealthy cohort, Jobs doesn’t have a particularly clear record of philanthropy, writes Andrew Ross Sorkin in DealBook. Or actually, one at all. His rival Bill Gates, for instance, has become nearly as famous for giving his money away as for making it. But when Gates asked Jobs to join his Giving Pledge, in which the nation’s wealthiest families promised to give away half their fortune, Jobs said no. He briefly started his own charitable foundation in the eighties, but closed it within a year. The head of that foundation said Jobs was more interested in programs on “nutrition and vegetarianism” than more need-based charities. There’s a rumor that an anonymous $150 million donation to the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center came from Jobs, and of course it’s perfectly possible that the billionaire prefers to give without the accolades that accompany large public philanthropy.

Despite his scanty record on charity, Jobs doesn’t seem particularly money-obsessed, writes Sorkin:

Two of his close friends, both of whom declined to be quoted by name, told me that Mr. Jobs had said to them in recent years, as his wealth ballooned, that he could do more good focusing his energy on continuing to expand Apple than on philanthropy, especially since his illness. “He has been focused on two things — building the team at Apple and his family,” another friend said. “That’s his legacy. Everything else is a distraction.”

Now, of course, Jobs no longer has Apple to focus on, and it’s possible he might turn to working on a legacy of a different sort.

The Mystery of Steve Jobs’s Public Giving [DealBook/NYT]

Will Steve Jobs Leave a Philanthropic Legacy?