</a>If Microsoft did pay a one-time $10 billion dividend to its shareholders, Bill Gates’ share would come to roughly $1.3 billion. (That’s billion, folks.)
What should he do with the money? Here’s an idea he might like.
The William Gates Institute. Endow it with the dividend. Buy 300 acres somewhere in Seattle and build a campus for cash. Hire the best theoretical minds in the business, give them the best facilities, and do the kind of long-time-horizon, basic research nobody does anymore, the kind that made the U.S, what it is today.
Why would they come? Not just because of the salaries, not just because of the facilities, not just because of the challenge, and not just because they love Seattle. They would come because the Gates Institute, at least at first, would have no undergraduates. Just a graduate program. Keep tuition low (even free) and you can take your pick. The great minds working with the best graduate students on a new campus, and no undergraduate teaching responsibilities…sign me up.
An Institute would also give Mr. Bill something to build in his “second life.” (I like noting that we’re the same age, 48.) He would have something to flog to his billionaire friends, like Warren Buffett, something really worthwhile. We need basic research desperately in this country, if we’re to even compete with China and India. What better legacy could a billionaire have than that? I see a Paul Allen Music School on campus, a Steve Ballmer Business School, don’t you? (How about a Marc Canter chair in computer graphic art?)
Eventually, of course, the Gates Institute might grow. It might add a literature department (Professor Rowling, meet Professor Bear and Professor Steele), a public policy school, whatever seems needed.
And someday, maybe after Bill and I are gone, they might have enough undergraduates to field a football team. The Fighting Nerds.
OK -I accept. Here’s my speech:
“I’d like to thank Bill, Steve and all my dear friends at Microsoft – especially the muckraker – Robert Scoble. My warmest heartfelt thanks go out to my dear friends at Macromedia – as well.” At which point a pounding, throbbing Interactive Music video starts – which is driven by wireless controllers distributed to the audience.
Videowalls display a collage-like cornucopia of famous faces, logos and PC boxes – all running whacky CGI artwork. Then a Burning Man sequence segues to QBox industrial noise performances – which triggers live dancers moving down the aisle. Each performer has on a speaker – blaring speeches by Larry Ellison, Scott McNealy and Steve Case – all lambasting Microsoft.
The perfomers all congreagte at the front of the stage, while laser beams and spotlights point at them. Smoke fills the air in a delightful illegal display of copyright stolen art and music. The whole show concludes with me serenading everyone to Schumann, Mozart and Brahams.
Now thats a cool idea!!!