updated 01:35 pm EST, Thu December 15, 2011
Apple co-founder's charity efforts still secret
One of the few subjects Steve Jobs refused to talk about for a biography by Walter Isaacson was philanthropy, according to ISI Group's Brian Marshall. The analyst says he was in attendance at a recent Q&A session with Isaacson at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The author explained that during interviews, Jobs would stay mum about charity in general as well as the specific question of how his fortune would be distributed after his death.
Isaacson made specific reference to The Giving Pledge, a movement started by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, urging the wealthiest Americans to donate most of their money. Jobs is not known to have participated. In fact the Apple co-founder was notoriously quiet about philanthropy during his lifetime, and is not believed to have made many contributions. A short video excerpt from Isaacson's talk yesterday (below) finds the author admitting that "nice" is not one of the adjectives anyone would use to describe Jobs.
Apple itself was rarely involved in charity until Tim Cook took over as CEO. Since 2006 its main charitable face has been participation in (Product)RED, which donates some proceeds from a small group of products toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. The founder of (Product)RED, U2 singer Bono, has defended Apple has having the best contributions of any company, ranking in the tens of millions of dollars.
During his Q&A, Isaacson is said to have revealed some other, smaller bits of information. These include the fact that in the biography, any hurtful comments by people which had no purpose in the text were deliberately omitted. There are also small errors in the book, such as Burl Smith being labeled a software engineer instead of a hardware engineer. Jobs is lastly reported to have stated that he didn't try to replace himself at Apple; instead he chose executives he thought could keep the company competitive. He felt the company was his greatest achievement, rather than any individual product.