Who Do Young Entrepreneurs Look Up To? Elon Musk

Steve Jobs is dead, Mark Zuckerberg is tarnished. For the next generation of startup founders, the contributions of Bill Gates feel like ancient history.

In middle school, Kenan Saleh saw the movie The Social Network, the dramatized account of the early days of Facebook. He decided, right then and there, that he would one day start a company of his own. “It was the first movie I’d seen that showed that you could be young and still be the most successful person in the room,” he says. “I definitely emulated Mark Zuckerberg in some ways.”

In true Zuckerbergian fashion, Saleh did start a company out of his dorm room at the University of Pennsylvania. He raised $500,000 as he crammed for finals and then sold the company to Lyft in 2019, the year he graduated. Along the way, Saleh realized he needed a new role model. He no longer wanted to be like Zuckerberg, who by then had become ensnared in a series of scandals.

Plenty of people liked Steve Jobs, but Jobs was dead, and reading his biography was about as appealing as “reading a history book.” Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Bill Gates were still alive, but their contributions to Silicon Valley already felt like ancient history. Saleh wanted a hero who was making history now.

Young people love to idolize their predecessors. Jobs was Silicon Valley’s idol of choice for decades, but to the next generation of startup founders, his legacy feels about as old as Web 1.0. Boy geniuses like Zuckerberg and Evan Spiegel, who became billionaires by the time they were 25, have fallen out of favor.

So have tech oligarchs like Jeff Bezos. “We don’t look up to these fools,” says Marc Baghadjian, the 22-year-old founder of a dating startup. “Just because you’re a billionaire doesn’t mean you’re positively effecting change.”

Instead, both Baghadjian and Saleh now worship Elon Musk, whom they see as a billionaire on an ethical mission. “He’s shown that you can do the best thing for the world and reap the benefits at the same time,” says Saleh, who started watching videos of Musk while he was in college.

WIRED asked more than a dozen young startup founders between the ages of 15 and 30 who inspires them. More than half brought up Musk. Others mentioned techno-optimists like Sam Altman and Patrick Collison, who seem to believe that technology can solve the world’s biggest problems, or entrepreneur-philanthropists with lesser-known startups.

None of them had read books about the history of Apple, Google, or Amazon; they said they were more inspired by forward-looking companies trying to solve the world’s biggest problems.

Olav Sorenson, who has taught entrepreneurship at UCLA and at Yale, says his students tend to admire people who have been “successful without selling out.” Some cite Seth Goldman—the founder of Honest Tea, who now chairs the board of Beyond Meat—as one source of inspiration because “he has focused his energy on investing in and supporting businesses with an ethical mission,” Sorenson says.

“This generation is looking at all of the issues and trying to say, ‘How can we start to be part of the solution to the problems that the older generation created for us?’” says Lori Rosenkopf, vice dean of entrepreneurship at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business.

Rosenkopf says that in the last few years, she’s noticed a shift in the way students talk about entrepreneurship—not just as a career alternative to banking or consulting, but as a way to start ventures with “a much greater social perspective.”

For many young entrepreneurs, Musk is the prime example of this mindset. “Elon Musk is literally picking up the tab for the mistakes that other generations have made,” says Baghadjian, who read Ashlee Vance’s biography of Musk in high school and has considered him a hero ever since.

Baghadjian says that while companies like Amazon and Apple have produced big innovations, Musk’s work with electric vehicles and solar energy was much more important.

Other young people were inspired by the trope of the startup founder who struggles on the way to success. One mentioned Musk sleeping on the floor in the Tesla headquarters, which they said showed grit. A few also mentioned the tale of Airbnb founder Brian Chesky, who maxed out his credit cards and subsisted on ramen noodles in the startup’s early days.

“There’s not a lot of glamour when you’re starting out,” says Pranjali Awasthi, who is 15 and is working on a stealth startup while she finishes high school online. Awasthi cited Musk and Altman as her heroes. But she also wished for more role models who look like her, a young woman of color. She says she was inspired to launch her startup in high school after she read about Laura Deming, who had started working on her own venture fund when she was 16.

A historic lack of diversity among high-profile entrepreneurs has left some young people without founder idols. “A lot of the founders people worshiped before have been straight, white men,” says Josh Yang, who is 27 and graduated from Stanford’s Graduate School of Business last year.

Women make up about 10 percent of tech CEOs, according to a 2021 report from the nonprofit AnitaB.org, and there are still startlingly few Black and Latinx CEOs in Fortune 500 companies. Yang, who identifies as a queer Asian man, doesn’t put much stock in the celebrities of the tech world. “I’m forging my own path,” he says.

So is Andrew Sun, an 18-year-old who recently launched a microfinance startup. He credits a high school teacher for getting him into entrepreneurship, rather than a celebrity CEO like Musk. “I don’t really have any desire to become a celebrity,” he says. “I want to be an entrepreneur who makes a substantial positive impact on our world.”

Arielle Pardes head shot - Wired

By:

Arielle Pardes is a senior writer at WIRED, where she works on stories about our relationship to our technology. Previously she was a senior editor for VICE. She is an alumna of the University of Pennsylvania and lives in San Francisco.

Source: Who Do Young Entrepreneurs Look Up To? Elon Musk | WIRED

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Bill Gates’ Investment Firm Buys Controlling Stake In Four Seasons Hotels For $2.2 Billion

Bill Gates will purchase a majority stake in the Four Seasons hotel chain for $2.21 billion, the company announced Wednesday.

Cascade Investment LLC, which manages the Microsoft cofounder’s massive fortune, agreed to buy half of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s stake in the hotel chain. The all-cash deal pushes Gates’ ownership from 47.5% to 71.25% and values the Four Seasons at $10 billion in enterprise value. The deal is expected to close in January 2022.

The purchase is a bet by Gates in part on the rebound of high-end business travel to big cities, which has suffered a blow during the pandemic. At least two Four Seasons hotels —including the one in midtown Manhattan— are currently closed; the midtown Manhattan location, which is owned by Beanie Baby’s billionaire founder Ty Warner, is “undergoing substantial infrastructure and maintenance work,” according to a note on its website.

However, one industry insider told Forbes that luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons lose money unless they operate at very high occupancy rates. In a statement, the hotel operator said the deal “marks a pivotal point in the evolution of Four Seasons” and affirms Cascade’s commitment to provide the Four Seasons “with resources to accelerate growth and expand its strategic goals.”

Through his investment vehicle Kingdom Holding Co., Prince Alwaleed will hold onto his remaining 23.75% stake. Forbes long counted the Saudi Prince as a billionaire — and one of the richest people in the world, but removed him from the Forbes billionaires list after November 2017, when Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kept Alwaleed and other princes and business leaders captive in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh and reportedly extracted billions of dollars from them.

Isadore Sharp, Four Seasons Founder and Chairman, will also retain his 5% stake through Triples Holdings Limited, the company said. Bill Gates is currently ranked by Forbes as the fifth richest person in the world, worth an estimated $132.8 billion fortune.

In addition to its Four Seasons investment, Cascade is the largest private owner of farmland in the U.S. Gates’ investment firm also owns stakes in car dealership AutoNation, farm equipment manufacturer John Deere and other stocks.

Kingdom will retain 23.75%. Four Seasons Founder and Chairman Isadore Sharp, through Triples Holdings Limited, will keep his 5% stake. Cascade first invested in Four Seasons in 1997. It was public at that time, but the company went private in 2007. Founded in 1960, Four Seasons manages 121 hotels and resorts and 46 residential properties in 47 countries. It also has more than 50 projects at various stages of development.

“As we mark our 60th anniversary and look back on the profound impact that Four Seasons has had on luxury hospitality we also look forward with tremendous excitement and confidence in the future of the industry,” Four Seasons CEO John Davison said in a statement. “The unwavering support and partnership of our shareholders has been and continues to be critical as we capitalize on growing opportunities to serve luxury consumers worldwide.”

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I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering wealth at Forbes. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

Source: Bill Gates’ Investment Firm Buys Controlling Stake In Four Seasons Hotels For $2.2 Billion

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How To Solve Climate Change: Bill Gates Wants You To Know Two Numbers

Bill Gates Climate

Bill Gates wants you to know two numbers: 51 billion and zero. The former is the number of tons of greenhouse gases typically added to the atmosphere each year as a result of human activities. The latter is the number of tons we need to get to by 2050 in order to avert a climate crisis.

Gates has a plan for how to go from 51 billion to zero, and he’s happy to say it doesn’t come with a price tag in the trillions of dollars. As you might expect from a guy who made his fortune in technology, the billionaire’s suggested solution is tied in large part to innovation.

He spells out his plan in a new book, How To Avoid A Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have And The Breakthroughs We Need, to be released on February 16. Ahead of the book launch, Gates talked to Forbes about why he wrote the book. He also shared details the book doesn’t get into, including how much he’s invested in zero-carbon companies, which ones he’s most excited about, including a new kind of nuclear power plant, and what he’s likely to invest in next. 

Goal number one of the book, says Gates, is to clearly lay out which sectors of the economy are producing the 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere each year. “The actual numeric framework, which is the most basic thing for any problem you want to tackle…that’s really been missing,” Gates says in a video interview from a conference room in his offices in Seattle. (See table for the percentage breakdown.)  The goal we as a planet need to aim for: zero emissions by 2050. Gates is optimistic that as hard as it sounds, we can get there.


How It Adds Up Globally: 51 Billion Tons

Emissions dropped about 5% in 2020 due to the pandemic, Gates estimates. But in a normal year the world adds 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, Gates writes in his book.

                            

Gates admits, both in his book and when we spoke, that he is an imperfect messenger on climate change. “The very idea that one person is saying they know what we should do —appropriately, there is some pushback,” he says. In his book, he writes, “The world is not exactly lacking in rich men with big ideas about what other people should do, or who think technology can fix any problem.” He admits to owning big houses and flying in private jets, though he tells me that he buys carbon offsets for $400 a ton for the private jet flights he takes. “I can’t deny being a rich guy with an opinion. I do believe, though, that it is an informed opinion, and I am always trying to learn more,” he writes.

Gates presciently warned in a 2015 talk about the dangers of a global pandemic and what we’d need to do to prepare for it. Similarly, this is not his first public prescription for the climate. In 2010 he gave a TED talk calling for the need to eliminate carbon emissions by 2050. He’s continued to consult experts in the field and delve into the latest in climate science and policy. In 2015 he got involved in the Paris Climate Summit, calling France’s then president, Francois Hollande, and encouraging him to get countries to agree to raise their R&D budgets for clean tech innovation. Twenty countries signed on. Says Gates, “Although we did not see all those countries double their R&D budgets, we did see some increase. That’s sort of when the field started to focus on can we get this innovation to take place.”

To help put a framework around progress and the cost of new carbon-free innovations, Gates and his team came up with a term called “Green Premium” and introduced it in his blog, Gates Notes, in September last year. As he explains it, the Green Premium spells out the difference in cost between a product or process that doesn’t emit carbon with one that does. Green Premiums have fallen in the passenger car sector to the point where more people are buying electric cars (though Gates points out that just 2% of global auto sales are electric vehicles). In the industrial sector, however, Green Premiums are much higher. Says Gates, “The hardest problems to solve are in areas like steel and concrete and even transportation things like aviation fuel.” The problems he’s referring to: coming up with processes to make these products that don’t emit greenhouse gases. The research is in its early stages, and that’s where government R&D can play a role, Gates suggests.

What’s It All Going To Cost? 

In December, Gates suggested in his blog that the U.S. create a National Institutes of Energy Innovation to help the country take the lead in climate change innovation. The idea is to model it after the National Institutes of Health, the backbone of U.S. medical research, which has an annual budget of about $37 billion. Gates says current U.S. government R&D spending on energy innovation is about $7 billion annually; that would need to be quintupled to match government spending on the NIH.

Another suggestion from Gates: shift the tax credits now available for solar and wind to more nascent areas like offshore wind, energy storage and new types of steel. “If you do that, and maybe double or triple the amount you spend on those tax benefits, then I do think that will be just a monumental contribution from the Biden administration,” he explains.

Whatever tech innovation comes out of the U.S. or elsewhere has to be affordable enough for countries like India to adopt it, Gates points out. Right now, the U.S. accounts for 14% of the world’s emissions. If just the U.S. gets to zero carbon emissions, we won’t be solving the problem globally.

Where Gates Is Investing

Gates, whose $124 billion fortune stems from an estimated 1% stake in Microsoft and a variety of other investments, says in the book he’s put “more than $1 billion” into companies working toward zero emissions. How much more? Altogether, he tells Forbes it’s about $2 billion. He describes himself as perhaps the biggest funder of direct air capture technologies—methods to capture carbon from the air. Two of the more well-known companies he’s been an investor in are producing plant-based meats: Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat. Some of his investing he categorizes as philanthropic, like the money he’s put toward an open source climate model that aims to show how electricity generation will work in long periods of tough weather when wind and solar would be shut down.

His biggest bet has been on TerraPower, a nuclear power company with a reactor that uses depleted uranium as its fuel. Gates founded the company with a few others more than a decade ago. In 2017, TerraPower formed a joint venture with a Chinese company and was planning to produce its first reactor in China. That deal was scuttled by the U.S. government, which in late 2019 blocked U.S. cooperation with China on civilian nuclear power. Now the plan is to build a demonstration plant somewhere in the U.S. In October the U.S. Department of Energy awarded $80 million to TerraPower toward construction of the plant; the agreement is that half of the funding will come from the private sector. Gates says, “That’s coming largely from me.”

His hope is that the demonstration plant will be built within five to seven years. “If things go well, that means that maybe in 10 years, commercial plant builders would take that design and build it ideally in the hundreds—which is what you need to have an impact on climate change.”

Gates has also invested in zero-carbon companies through Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a group he assembled that launched in December 2016. “It was a lot easier to raise the money than I expected,” he says. “I made about 22 calls and got about 20 yeses for the first billion.” Investors include billionaires such as Jeff Bezos, Vinod Khosla, John Arnold and John Doerr; Gates says he’s the largest investor. So far Breakthrough Energy Ventures has invested in 40 companies; One, QuantumScape, which is developing lithium metal batteries for electric vehicles and has no revenues yet, went public through a SPAC last November. Though many of the companies are still early stage, Gates describes some as “really wild,” including QuidNet, which is working to store electricity by pumping water into pressured underground wells; when energy is needed, the water is released and goes through a turbine, creating electricity.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures raised another $1 billion fund in January, with most of the same initial investors and some newcomers. (Gates didn’t disclose names.) He says he’s the largest investor in the latest fund, too. The new fund will look to invest in more of the industrial processes like low-carbon cement and steel production as well as technologies to capture carbon from the air, Gates says.

Over the next five years, Gates says “I’ll put in at least $2 billion” toward zero-carbon technologies. But while a total of $4 billion is a lot of money, for someone worth more than $120 billion, it’s a small sliver of his overall investments. Says Gates, “It’s more limited by what is out there that can have a high impact.”

genesis-3-1

One of Gates’ other investments that’s been in the news recently seems to fly in the face of his zero-carbon focus. In early February, Gates’ investment arm, Cascade, partnered with Blackstone Group and private equity firm Global Infrastructure Partners in a $4.7 billion deal to buy Signature Aviation, the world’s largest operator of private jet bases. Private jet travel has been booming during the pandemic, but such travel emits a heck of a lot of greenhouse gases. How does he square the deal with the premise of his book? A spokesperson for Gates did not reply to the question.

Will Gates’ book influence policy makers and move the needle toward innovation in zero-carbon technologies? It helps that combating climate change is already one of the Biden administration’s top four priorities. Given that the book is addressing weighty material, it’s relatively easy to read, sprinkled with Gates’ personal observations  and even a photo of him with his son Rory on a visit to a geothermal power plant in Iceland. (Gates says he and Rory liked to visit power plants for fun.) He mentions that he drives an electric car the Porsche Taycan Turbo, which he describes to Forbes as “ridiculously nice and ridiculously expensive” — that sells for $150,000 or more. (He’s such a fan that he got one of the first demo models, he adds.)

If nothing else, Gates wants to get people talking. “My hope is that we can shift the conversation by sharing the facts with the people in our lives— our family members, friends, and leaders. And not just the facts that tell us why we need to act, but also those that show us the actions that will do the most good,” he writes.

A bigger measure of his success will be whether the Biden administration adopts any of his policy proposals. Says Gates, “I do think that with those increases [in spending], we’ll be doing exactly what we need to do, not just for us, but for the entire world.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I’m a San Francisco-based Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on the world’s richest people. I oversee the massive reporting effort that goes into Forbes’ annual World’s Billionaires list and The Forbes 400 Richest Americans list. The former gets me to use my rusty Spanish and Portuguese. In 2014, I won an Overseas Press Club award for an article I wrote about Saudi Arabian billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal; I also won a Gerald Loeb Award with co-author Rafael Marques de Morais for an article we wrote about Isabel dos Santos, the eldest daughter of Angola’s former president. Over more than two decades, reporting for Forbes has taken me to 17 countries on four continents, from the streets of Manila to palaces in Saudi Arabia and Mexico’s presidential residence. Follow me on Twitter @KerryDolan My email: kdolan[at]forbes[dot] com Tips and story ideas welcome

Source: How To Solve Climate Change: Bill Gates Wants You To Know Two Numbers

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Bill Gates outlines his vision for a global green revolution. He tells Zanny Minton Beddoes, our editor-in-chief, how renewable energy is merely the first step in combatting climate change. 00:00 – How to fund a green economy 00:38 – Lessons from the pandemic 01:52 – Behaviour change v innovation in technology 03:36 – Most promising renewable technologies 04:31 – Private sector investment in green technology 06:30 – How essential are carbon prices? 07:50 – Net-zero emissions targets for businesses 09:39 – America’s role in climate-change action 12:40 – What are the odds for success of green innovation? Sign up to The Economist’s fortnightly climate-change newsletter: https://econ.st/3midEwG Find our most recent climate-change coverage: https://econ.st/37epi7u The World In 2021: the world could turn a corner on climate change: https://econ.st/37hdgKp
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Bill Gates Doesn’t Think We’ll Have Effective Covid Vaccines By The End of The Year

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Bill Gates is worth over $100 billion dollars on paper, but he’s committed almost all of it to charity in his lifetime or in death. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is reportedly the largest private foundation in the world, with nearly $50 billion in assets. The Foundation funds incredible work in the developing world, from vaccine programs to medical research and educational initiatives and schools and tons more.

Bill Gates has sort of become synonymous with vaccines, vaccine programs and vaccine research. He’s become quite the self-styled expert on vaccinology in the past 20 years, and of course he’s currently funding – to the tune of $350 million – vaccine research on the coronavirus. That’s also led to some really dumb conspiracies from the QAnon/Russian bot crowd, most of which do not bear repeating. So I was interested to hear what Gates had to say in this new Bloomberg interview, and guess what? He actually calmed me down?

Whether he’s confident we’ll have a Covid vaccine by the end of the year: “Well, the initial vaccine won’t be ideal in terms of its effectiveness against sickness and transmission. It may not have a long duration, and it will mainly be used in rich countries as a stopgap measure. We’d be lucky to have much before the end of the year. But then, in 2021, a number of other vaccines are very likely to get approved. The strongest response will probably come from the protein subunit. With so many companies working on it, we can afford quite a few failures and still have something with low cost and long duration.

On the anti-Vaxx movement: “The two times I’ve been to the White House [since 2016], I was told I had to go listen to anti-vaxxers like Robert Kennedy Jr. So, yes, it’s ironic that people are questioning vaccines and we’re actually having to say, “Oh, my God, how else can you get out of a tragic pandemic?”

Whether he thinks there should be a Covid vaccine mandate: “Making something mandatory can often backfire. But you might say that if you’re going to work in an old-folks home or have any exposure to elderly people, it would be required.

On the conspiracies that he unleashed the virus & something about 5G: “It’s strange. They take the fact that I’m involved with vaccines and they just reverse it, so instead of giving money to save lives, I’m making money to get rid of lives. If that stops people from taking a vaccine or looking at the latest data about wearing a mask, then it’s a big problem.

The conversation about hydroxychloroquine: “This is an age of science, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. In the test tube, hydroxychloroquine looked good. On the other hand, there are lots of good therapeutic drugs coming that are proven to work without the severe side effects.

How the pandemic will end: “The innovations in therapeutics will start to cut the death rate……

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Bill Gates on How the U.S. Can Course Correct Its COVID-19 Response: ‘You Wish Experts Were Taking Charge’

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The U.S. domestic response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far has been “weak,” Bill Gates believes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair and Microsoft co-founder told TIME senior health correspondent Alice Park during a TIME100 Talks discussion on Thursday that he’d give the U.S.’s COVID-19 response, “on a relative and absolute basis, not a passing grade.”

But, he added, the U.S.’s funding for vaccine and therapeutic research “has been the best in the world,” so if it coordinates to share resources globally, the U.S. could “potentially score the highest” in that realm.

During a global pandemic like COVID-19, Gates argued, governments must collaborate to ensure the virus is fully eradicated. The U.S. has historically led global responses to past health crises like smallpox or polio, he told Park, but has been less of a leader during COVID-19. Instead, countries that were exposed to SARS or MERS responded most quickly and “set a very strong model.”

“There’s about six countries that immediately went to the private sector and said okay, ‘how do we get mass testing? We’ll commit to buy tests’,” he said. “That never happened in the U.S.”

The U.S. continues to face huge delays that make many tests “a waste of money,” he continued, adding that while the responsibility for testing has been delegated to the states, they “don’t have enough power” to speed up testing.

“The more you know about this, the more you wish experts were taking charge,” Gates continued.

If the U.S. can get its COVID-19 numbers down in the next few months, he noted, that will make a “huge difference” in terms of the death rate “going into the fall,” which “could be a challenge because people are indoors more, it’s colder and the flu symptoms will be confusing.”

Fall could also bring new developments in vaccine and therapeutic research, however. “Even within two months, we can have some new anti-virals and antibodies that could make a big difference,” Gates said, adding that countries will need to work together to distribute those resources globally.

Companies that create vaccines need to coordinate with those that have factory capacity and adopt tiered pricing “so the poorest countries get it for the lowest price,” he continued. And governments will also need to ensure that the vaccine is allocated equally—not only within countries but between countries. That can’t be done using only market forces, he said. “The private sector all by itself, would simply charge the highest price and only give to the very wealthy.”

As of yet, the U.S. hasn’t “shown up in the international forums where money to get these tools out to countries is being discussed,” he told Park. Still, he continued, “that still absolutely can be fixed.”

By Madeleine Carlisle

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