Google’s founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, are planning to set up Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google, as a for-profit with an initial “seed investment” of $1 billion “to tackle poverty, disease and global warming” (Link to NYTimes, sub required).
But unlike most charities, this one will be for-profit, allowing it to fund start-up companies, form partnerships with venture capitalists and even lobby Congress. It will also pay taxes.
It sounds like Brin and Page have thought long and hard about this and are convinced that the cost/benefit of a for-profit status makes sense for Google.org, which plans to kick things off by developing a hybrid car that runs on ethanol, gas, and electricity.
Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, believe for-profit status will greatly increase their philanthropy’s range and flexibility. It could, for example, form a company to sell the converted cars, finance that company in partnership with venture capitalists, and even hire a lobbyist to pressure Congress to pass legislation granting a tax credit to consumers who buy the cars.
I’m really excited about this development because it throws the weight of an 800 pound gorilla into the social entrepreneurship space. If Google.org can figure out a way to create both significant ROI and social ROI, it would give great validation to the idea of making money while doing good.