Harvard has awarded Bill Gates his degree – just a few decades since he dropped out – and he even got to deliver the commencement address this year. An address that was brilliant and timely.
Gates called on the historic challenge to Harvard students of General Marshall who inspired students to help rebuild Europe after WWII. Gates ambitions are even bigger – getting the best and brightest to take on the world’s most pressing challenges of poverty and health.
There is no more important message in the world today, especially as the deadly combination (literally deadly for millions of the world’s poor) of commercial media and human superficial interests have effectively made intelligent and provocative discussion of these broad global issues rare and difficult. Gates correctly points to the key challenge in solving global poverty – how to make fighting poverty and disease in the third world as interesting to people as innovations in technology or new provocative content in the entertainment industry.
This Yahoo shareholder is thrilled to see Jerry Yang back at the head of the company he and David Filo founded 12 years ago. Yahoo is a fantastic company with a huge cadre of brilliant developers that have been languishing in no small part because senior management has failed to inspire, reward, and take advantage of the amazing 2.0 stuff that has become the lifeblood of Yahoo’s development efforts for the past several years.
Google has crushed MS and handily beat Yahoo in online profits and search viewership because they 1) still have somewhat better search routines and 2) have taken simple paths and provided user friendly, simple solutions to common problems. Yang knows this and he knows how to fix it. I’m not sure Terry Semel even understood the significance of search and advertising driven computing, and probably did not grasp the significance of social computing which even Google is failing to fully grasp (but is profiting from because of their brilliant contextual matching programs so social networks can display relevant ads). Yahoo’s panama can do this as well if Yang gets *competitive* and does the smart stuff like offer publishers higher revenue shares than Google.