As Microsoft CEO Bill Gates stepped down from the helm last week to focus entirely on his philanthropic work, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page are just getting started with a US$25m in grants and investments through its philanthropic arm, Google.org.
The financial clout comes on the back of a promise made four years ago by the two co-founders as Google went public, to donate 1pc of its annual profits as well as 1pc of the firm’s equity to humanitarian causes.
Sheryl Sandberg, VP of global online sales and operations, and a board member of Google.org, said that Brin and Page wanted to “make Google an institution that makes the world a better place”.
“The work of Google.org will help us do that by applying Google’s strengths in organizing information and scaling technology to these complex issues,” she added.
Giving financial support to organisations like the Global Health and Security Initiative (GHSI) and the Centre for Budget and Policy Studies in Bangalore, Google.org aims to help causes as far-reaching as infectious disease prevention to municipal planning in India to the impact of climate change on ecosystems.
“These five initiatives are our attempt to address some of the hard problems we as a world need to face in the coming decade,” said Dr Larry Brilliant, executive director of Google.org.
“We have chosen them both because we think solving them will make a better, fairer, safer world for our children and grandchildren, and the children and grandchildren of people all over the world, but also because we feel these core initiatives fit well with Google’s core strengths, especially its innovative technologies and its talented engineers and other Googlers, who are really our most valuable assets.”
The five main areas targeted by Google.org’s philanthropic efforts are: predicting and preventing events like natural disasters, improving public services through information and empowerment, helping to grow small to medium-sized enterprise (SMEs), developing renewal energy that is cheaper than coal and finally helping commercialise the plug-in vehicle, RechargeIT.
By Marie Boran