Creative capitalism: a conversation

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Mike Kinsley and Conor Clarke have outsourced production of a book on "creative capitalism"--the subject of a much-noted speech by Bill Gates earlier this year--to the internet. Gates, if you recall, jumped on the corporate social responsibility bandwagon and argued that ordinary capitalism will no longer do. We need a new kind. The new website invites posts and comments on the subject, and the discussion appears to be thriving. I recently posted a note with my own first take on the issue.

When somebody says “Microsoft,” my first thought is unlikely ever to be “good corporate citizen.” I am more likely to think, “world-transforming innovator,” “awesome creator of wealth,” and “ruthless competitor.” (Sorry, Bill, no disrespect.) One wonders what would have become of this company if in its first decade or two its founder had spent significant time and effort—as he urged his audience at Davos—on good works not directly related to his goals for the enterprise. My main reaction to Bill’s speech was that it was a comical instance of “Do as I say, not as I did.” Microsoft’s shareholders and the world at large can thank their lucky stars that Bill did not follow his own advice.


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