U2 frontman Bono defends Steve Jobs: Calls him ‘poetic’ and labels his charitable efforts ‘invaluable’

Fri, Sep 2, 2011


Though he famously only receives a salary of $1/yr, Steve Jobs is beyond wealthy. And while his tech counterpart Bill Gates has made quite a name for himself as a philanthropist, Steve Jobs’ philanthropic activity, if any, remains unknown.

Consequently, Jobs has been taken to task for not following in the footsteps of Gates despite amassing a fortune worth over $8 billion.

A recent New York Times article tackled the issue:

Despite accumulating an estimated $8.3 billion fortune through his holdings in Apple and a 7.4 percent stake in Disney (through the sale of Pixar), there is no public record of Mr. Jobs giving money to charity. He is not a member of the Giving Pledge, the organization founded by Warren E. Buffett and Bill Gates to persuade the nation’s wealthiest families to pledge to give away at least half their fortunes. (He declined to participate, according to people briefed on the matter.) Nor is there a hospital wing or an academic building with his name on it.

The article teases out some more information from two of Jobs’ closed friends who relayed that Jobs had told them that he could “do more good focusing his energy on continuing to expand Apple than on philanthropy.” And given his recent bouts with medical related issues, these sources note that Jobs has been “focused on two things – building the team at Apple and his family. That’s his legacy. Everything else is a distraction.”

We’ll dive into the issue of Jobs’ charitable ways in a later post, but for now we wanted to highlight a letter to the editor written by U2 frontman Bono. Bono and Jobs, of course, have a relationship that goes back a few years. You might remember that Apple offered a U2 branded iPod in the mid-2000s and introduced a Product Red iPod nano in 2006. Further, Apple has used U2’s music in its ads before and Bono’s silhouetted mug even graced the front of Apple’s ‘videos’ icon for quite some time.

Bono’s letter reads:

Re “The Mystery of Jobs’s Public Giving,” by Andrew Ross Sorkin (DealBook, Aug. 30):

As a founder of (Product)RED, I’d like to point out that Apple’s contribution to our fight against AIDS in Africa has been invaluable. Through the sale of (RED) products, Apple has been (RED)’s largest contributor to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria — giving tens of millions of dollars that have transformed the lives of more than two million Africans through H.I.V. testing, treatment and counseling. This is serious and significant. And Apple’s involvement has encouraged other companies to step up.

Steve Jobs said when we first approached him about (RED), “There is nothing better than the chance to save lives.”

I’m proud to know him; he’s a poetic fellow, an artist and a businessman. Just because he’s been extremely busy, that doesn’t mean that he and his wife, Laurene, have not been thinking about these things. You don’t have to be a friend of his to know what a private person he is or that he doesn’t do things by halves.

Dublin, Sept. 1, 2011




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