Preston Gralla

Malcolm Gladwell: History will exalt Bill Gates, forget Steve Jobs

June 08, 2012 12:48 PM EDT

In 50 years, Steve Jobs will be a forgotten figure, while Bill Gates will be revered throughout the world. So says best-selling author Malcom Gladwell, and I think he's right.

Gladwell, author of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Make a Big Difference and other books, made that comment at an appearance at Toronto Public Library's Appel Salon, reports GeekWire.

Gladwell says that Gates will be remembered for his philanthropy, not his work at Microsoft. Geekwire quotes Gladwell saying:

"I firmly believe that 50 years from now he'll be remembered for his charitable work. No one will even remember what Microsoft is, and all the great entrepreneurs of this era, people will have forgotten Steve Jobs. There will be statues of Gates across the third world and...there's a reasonable shot...because of his money, we will cure malaria."

Gladwell said that Jobs was "an extraordinary businessman and entrepreneur," but also "a self-promoter on a level we have rarely seen." And then he added this zinger:

"Jobs was never first. He was later to every single party...and was quite happy ripping people off."

I've said before that Gates will be remembered better by history than Jobs. Gates will be remembered not just for the millions of people whose lives he bettered or saved, but because he changed philanthropy itself, applying return on investment analysis to philanthropy, and making donations more effective.

Jobs was outright hostile to philanthropic efforts, shutting down Apple's philanthropic programs. Without Jobs, there would still be computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, and portable music players. But without Gates, milllions of people around the world would have poorer, less-healthy lives, or would have died prematurely.