Philanthropy today: Larry Page, the Google co-founder with $32 billion and little record of altruism, says he'd prefer another tech billionaire inherit his estate instead of leaving it to charity.

This wasn't overheard accidentally: Page proclaimed it before an audience, during a sit-down interview with Charlie Rose. Wired has the details:

Running through Page's plans for Google was [a] theme picked up on by Rose: a faith that business is the best way to build his version of a better future. Rose asked him about a sentiment that Page had apparently voiced before that rather than leave his fortune to a cause, that he might just give it to Elon Musk. Page agreed, calling Musk's aspiration to send humans to Mars "to back up humanity" a worthy goal. "That's a company, and that's philanthropical," he said.

Elon Musk, of PayPal and Tesla fame, is worth about $12 billion. It's fair to say he's doing alright on his own, and doesn't "need money."


Places that might actually "need money" include:


  • Schools
  • Shelters
  • Soup kitchens
  • Hospitals

And those are just four ideas I came up with off the top of my head—I'm not even a billionaire. You'll notice "private space travel to Mars" isn't on the list. That's because, as cool as flying to Mars would be, it's much lower on the list of human needs than, say, not dying of malaria, or starvation. It's also worth restating that Elon Musk is already a billionaire, and maybe we should let him pay for private space travel on his own. It sounds neat to say "back up humanity," but in 2014, it's a trifle, and it's not philanthropy. If you give an immense amount of money to a privately owned company that ends up benefiting from it, you're not a donor, you're an investor.

We shouldn't be too surprised: Larry Page loves trifles. But if not shocked, we should still be disappointed, because $32 billion is a lot of money to choose on rich man's hobbyism over helping humans.