Will Steve Jobs stand the test of time?


Malcolm Gladwell started his best-selling authorial career with a deep dive into who decides what’s cool. So when this cool cat speaks up about business leaders the world will remember in 50 years, he’s probably done his homework.

In Gladwell’s view, history will look kindly on Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) founder Bill Gates half a century down the road, but Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) leader Steve Jobs will be forgotten.

“People will remember him as the man who … you know, there’s a reasonable shot, because of his money, we will cure malaria,” he said at a recent speaking engagement. So Gates, the man, will live on, but: “No one will even remember what Microsoft is.”

That’s an overstatement for dramatic effect, of course. You do know a thing or two about Standard Oil and its founder, John D Rockefeller, even a century after the company’s demise, right?

That verdict has nothing to do with the businesses the two men started. By any measure, the Apple we see today is worthy of inclusion in any MBA curriculum for the next couple of centuries. It’s an unparalleled rise from the edge of the grave to record-breaking riches, and a master class in marketing strategy. For this, Jobs will be remembered in business circles.

But the rest of the world should build statues to honour Gates instead. Gladwell argues that the charitable work he’s pumping his Microsoft billions into is making the world better in a real and measurable way.

Though Gladwell didn’t mention him, I’m sure that Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK-B) guru Warren Buffett will outlive his company in public memory for much the same reasons. In fact, his charitable efforts are joined at the hip with Bill Gates’. He famously gave US$31 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates charitable trust in 2006, has proposed higher taxes on the ultra-rich, and aims to shuffle most of his Berkshire billions into the Gates foundations when he’s gone. Oh, and the Rockefeller Foundation made significant contributions to fields like medicine, arts, and international relations. The early oil riches are still making a difference.

Should we hold billionaire business leaders to a higher standard of sharing than the rest of us? Gladwell would argue that these billions and trillions of hard-won dollars would be better spent on global improvements and on fundamental research than passed on as inheritance to a select handful of very rich families. Call it liberal idealism or blue-eyed naivete if you want, but I would agree. Would you rather be remembered just for being successful and fabulously wealthy, like Steve Jobs, or also for putting an incredible pile of gold to work in the real world, like Gates and Buffett?

If you’re in the market for some high yielding ASX shares, look no further than our “Secure Your Future with 3 Rock-Solid Dividend Stocks” report. In this free report, we’ve put together our best ideas for investors who are looking for solid companies with high dividends and good growth potential. Click here now to find out the names of our three favourite income ideas. But hurry – the report is free for only a limited time.

 More reading

The Motley Fools purpose is to help the world invest, better. Take Stock is The Motley Fool’s free investing newsletter. Packed with stock ideas and investing advice, it is essential reading for anyone looking to build and grow their wealth in the years ahead. Click here now to request your free subscription, whilst it’s still available. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

A version of this article, written by Anders Bylund, originally appeared on fool.com

OUR #1 DIVIDEND PICK FOR 2016...

Forget BHP and Woolworths. This "dirt cheap" company is growing like gangbusters, and trading on a 5.6% dividend yield, FULLY FRANKED (8% gross). With interest rates set to stay at these low levels for years to come, for hungry investors, including SMSFs, this ASX company could be the "holy grail" of dividend plays for 2016.

Enter your email below to discover the name, code and a full investment analysis in our brand-new FREE report, “The Motley Fool’s Top Dividend Stock for 2016.”

By clicking this button, you agree to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. We will use your email address only to keep you informed about updates to our website and about other products and services we think might interest you. You can unsubscribe from Take Stock at anytime. Please refer to our https://www.fool.com.au/financial-services-guide">Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information.