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The Philanthropic Arm of Google 299

GoatJuggler writes "I accidentally visited google.org recently and ended up at a different Google site that appears to be a placeholder for Google's future foray into the world of philanthropy. A quote from Sergey Brin & Larry Page is there now, 'We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems.' Not much to see there now, but it's certainly refreshing to see a successful company leveraging their success to do good. Googling part of that quote led me to a blog that references the uniqueness of Google's SEC filing. The Google Foundation is referenced, and Google's job page now mentions that they are looking to fill the position of Executive Director for the Google Foundation. So, expect Good Things(TM) (like saving 3-legged kittens) from Google soon."
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The Philanthropic Arm of Google

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  • by daveKfs ( 809861 ) * on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:37AM (#12254132)
    Google's first task for humanity should be to explain to us what philanthropic means.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    (see subject)
    • by anti-NAT ( 709310 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:57AM (#12254833) Homepage

      The government (well the AU government anyway) doesn't want to apply tax to money you've earned that you give to charities.

      In AU (and possibly other places), a "tax write off" doesn't really directly reduce your tax at all. What it does is reduces your taxable income, IOW, the income that tax is calculated against. For example, if, before tax, you've earned $30 000, and you donate $2000 to a charity, your taxable income then becomes $28 000. The government is being charitable itself, in saying that they don't want a tax slice of the $2000 you've donated.

      Another way to look at it is that your taxable salary is your "profit" for working - you're allowed to make tax deductions on things necessary to generate that salary "profit". For example, being in IT, I can claim Internet access, IT Books etc. All these tax deductions are not reducing my tax, they are reducing the portion of my salary that I'll pay tax on.

      So, if you want to pay no tax, give away all of your salary to a Charity until your taxable salary is below the taxable salary threshold eg. in AU, $6000 p.a.

      I'm fairly sure that companies have the same general options - if they donate part of their profit to charity, they don't pay tax on their donations. Of course, they could give away all of their profit to a charity, pay no tax, but also not pay the shareholders any increase in their investment (dividend, increased stock price via stock buy back).

      I'm not accountant so I could be somewhat wrong about the above. I am fairly sure about the concept of tax deductions not "directly reducing" your tax though - I used to think that way, as I think a lot of other people do. It's all about reducing your taxable income.

  • In other words... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Sanity ( 1431 ) *
    ..."Google is going to do good stuff in the future, but we have no idea what".

    Is there any way to filter out stories about Google on Slashdot?

  • by DoorFrame ( 22108 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:41AM (#12254156) Homepage
    We need to save three legged kittens from Google now? What, do they want to rip off the remaining legs? Are they going to come back to finish the job?

    Now I truly fear the monstrosity that is Google.org.
  • by sellin'papes ( 875203 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:43AM (#12254162) Homepage
    Just another major corporation saying 'don't be afraid of us, look at all the generous things we do'. That scares the shit out of me.

    If google is making enough money to give it away to boost their reputation, then I wonder how much tax they are paying. How much money in tax breaks to Google could have gone to building schools, money for hospitals, or even to pay down the deficit?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:50AM (#12254196)
      Actually, looking at the recent spendings of the US government, I think the money will be better spent by Google than by the folks collecting taxes.

      Just my opinion.
    • by zkn ( 704992 )
      You are saying that you would trust the government to use the money in good intentions rather then google, on the grounds that google intend to spend them in good intentions?
      This is just expanding the "don't be evil" policy to "Be good" wich can't really hurt anyone(Exept 3legged kittens apparently).
      Besides google cant stabilice an intire economy on it's own, even if it does decide to pay more taxes then it rightfully should.
    • Had the money not gone to charity, only part of it would have been taxed. As such, even less, after administrative expenses and so on, would have reached those who need it.

      If you're worried that Google trying to screw the system over by giving to charity, you have your priorities mixed up.
    • by William Robinson ( 875390 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:54AM (#12254216)
      Hmmm.. your fears are not baseless. Their monopoly and financial muscle certainly brings some concerns. But if the organization is giving better signals, why not just accept it.

      Moreover this is not their first gesture. If u are aware, Google is supporting Firefox big way. Internet world has gained a lot from Google.

      • by The Cisco Kid ( 31490 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:48AM (#12254778)
        Google hardly has a monopoly.

        Their search isnt their income-producing profit, their advertising is. And they surely have no lock on the advertising market, even the web advertising market. They also dont really have much power to abuse any perceived monopoly you think they do have, since if you dont like their search, you *are* always free to use another one, on a moments whim (yahoo/msn/whatever).

        Someone else's choice of search engine hardly has any effect on your choice (unlike the case where someone sends you a document that your job depends on, and sends it in a proprietary format that the vendor of only one brand of software refuses to document, and even goes so far as to *patent* key technology that would have to be used in any competing software trying to read/interpret that data - which would definitely be an abuse of monopoly)
      • But if the organization is giving better signals,

        What are the wrong signals? I must have missed them? The only thing bad I've seen is google groups (with its totally bad formatting that can make the groups actually unreadble, and they don't seem to care)
    • more tax money doesn't help bad schools, it just makes bad schools more expensive.

      collecting taxes to pay off debt just moves the burden of debt from the government to the people. the only way for a country to pay off debt is to become more productive, and raising taxes isn't the best way to do that.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        more tax money doesn't help bad schools, it just makes bad schools more expensive.

        That is certainly true when the schools are bad because they're wasting money on crap, but some schools are short of money, and would do good things if they had it. The hard thing is to figure out which are which...

        collecting taxes to pay off debt just moves the burden of debt from the government to the people.

        Now that's just stupid. Government debt is your burden, or your children's. No politician or civil servant
      • by aav ( 117550 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:00AM (#12254515)
        Hmm, I don't know which post will be more off-topic: this or the parent. Anyway...

        The government is not an independent entity. It actually represents the people and whatever it does affects the people. The debt of your country is your debt as well, and you share it with your co-nationals. Moreover, your government operates with the money from your taxes which is, ultimately, your money. Basically your country being a debtor means that your government has been spending the money you haven't given to it yet (simplistically written, admittedly, but you haven't gone beyond the republican slogans either).

        If you didn't like that thought, then think for whom you vote next time.

        You might find excuses to prove me wrong, but they won't amount to more than being just excuses.

        Raising taxes is not a problem. It's how they are spent that makes a difference. If your government raised the taxes to provide universal health care, nobody would need to pay for insurance. Take with one hand, give with the other. However, that also means that your government would be managing more of your money, and some people have a problem with that (for good reasons too).

        You don't provide any reason for saying that low taxes encourage increasing productivity and, implicitly, economic growth. And that's because it's wrong and you don't have a valid reason. The statistics waved so dearly by the republicans are misleading at best. They are measured in yearly intervals and the reference is always the worst year of the recent period (e.g. 1982 for Reagan's tax cuts, 1999 for Bush II). The claims made based on these numbers are fraud. The measurements should be compared over whole economical cycles (i.e. periods between two successive recessions; this usually translates into one decade). The peaks and the averages should be considered, not the lowest points.

        If you did all this, you'd find that the tax rate doesn't have any significant influence on the state of the economy.
        • If you did all this, you'd find that the tax rate doesn't have any significant influence on the state of the economy.

          Okay then, let's set it to 100% and stop arguing!

        • If you didn't like that thought, then think for whom you vote next time.

          You might find excuses to prove me wrong, but they won't amount to more than being just excuses.


          Except of course the factual that it doesn't matter for whom he voted. It wouldn't have changed anything. That's the illusion of democracy, that you make a difference. But you don't. An individual vote doesn't matter. It becomes a majority dictatorship - if you are lucky. Today big business influence most of the decisions.
        • The debt of your country is your debt.

          Except for that annoying "excuse" that I'm thrown in jail for not going into this debt to begin with.

          Saying that using public services is violating a social contract is like saying that ad blocking is violating a social contract. There's no mutual consent.
          • This debt is your debt
            this debt is my debt
            from preemptive warfare
            to the housing projects

            from the wealthy tax breaks
            to the corp'rate favors
            this debt was made by you and me!
    • There is always someone who will kick you in the nuts for doing the right thing.
    • by ajs ( 35943 ) <ajs@nOspam.ajs.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:25AM (#12254339) Homepage Journal
      We (that is those of us in the U.S.) have made decision, either directly or by proxy through our lawmakers to allow companies, to a certain extent, to decide to funnel money into charitable causes instead of into their tax bill. Companies do this because there's more PR in charities than paying your taxes.

      If, every time a large corporation does this (and they all do), you're going to get scared of what horrible evil that PR is covering up, you're going to end up cowering in fear at every step. It's just one way of the government spending tax dollars that doesn't involve the government getting to decide HOW to spend those dollars. IMHO, that's a heck of a lot better than handing it to war-mongers.

      What really boggles me is that a genuinely good company like Google (I've talked with several people there, and watched their business closely, and they ARE good) gets accused of having horrible malicious goals more than any 3 other companies I've ever heard of. I mean, for Pete's sake, GE makes NUKES! It's their job. They crank them out like candy. And yet, somehow it's Google that we focus our scrutiny on?!
      • by SA Stevens ( 862201 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:34AM (#12254701)
        Companies do this because there's more PR in charities than paying your taxes.

        Actually, some entities do this because the government is so corrupted, slanted by special interests, and utterly incapable of doing certain needed things. Many charitable foundations have people who might be termed 'captains of industry' sitting on their board, people who have PROVEN they are capable administrators. Government, on the other hand, is composed of careerist civil service sloths, and the overgrown shyster 'used car salesmen' types who succeed in politics.
      • What really boggles me is that a genuinely good company like Google (I've talked with several people there, and watched their business closely, and they ARE good) gets accused of having horrible malicious goals more than any 3 other companies I've ever heard of.

        I think this is because Google is actually being held to a higher standard, whatever that means. The sniping is a crude attempt to find what it means, this higher standard. Basic survival instinct. If we are to trust Google, maybe better we get som
    • Just repeating what I'm sure others have said, but if Google is going to give away $100MM to causes they like as opposed to paying $100MM in taxes, then we're not really worse off. The problem begins when we have companies that don't pay $100MM in taxes and then... Give it to the execs.

      Unfortunately, while Google's scenario is the prefered one*, we still need to avoid the alternate exec-paying scenario. Hence, the government serves as an unwanted, but necessary conduit by which to distribute this money.

      *
      • For the record, and this seems to a common misconception, or at least an implied one, giving X to charity, does NOT mean that you pay X less taxes. It means that you get to reduce your taxes by the amount of the tax applicable to X.

        Eg, lets say your tax rate is 10%. If you donate $100 to something tax-deductible, it means you decduct $100 when figuring your 'taxable income', which equates to saving $10 in actual tax.
    • Your post makes it appear that you think the tax deduction Google realizes from philanthropy would better spent by the government. I'm assuming that you think the government will make spending decisions that have a higher moral basis than the Google Foundation.

      I'd suggest, then, that we implement a system of flat tax rates with no possible deductions. In that system we'll avoid deducting taxes spent on moral causes.
    • Look here [google.com] for a google search on google.org.
      Right now it looks primarly as a directory of some sorts.
  • It's the kinder, gentler side of Google. Oh wait, it's all kind and gentle, right?! :^)
  • Yes but (Score:3, Funny)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:44AM (#12254172)
    The important question is : will google.org get mirrored [alltooflat.com] too?
  • cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:45AM (#12254177)
    maybe one day they'll give as much and do as much as microsoft/bill gates has.

    i dont really think the starving people in africa bill gates has fed really give two hoots about where the money comes from.

    sometimes, being capitalist swine can be a good thing.
    • Re:cool (Score:3, Insightful)

      by northcat ( 827059 )
      Yeah, we are all really greatful for our Capitalist care-takers in USA. Can we please have the priviledge of worshipping your feet?
      • Re:cool (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @11:37AM (#12255024) Homepage
        Oh grow the fuck up. Nobody is saying to worship the "capitalist care-takers". All we're saying is stop whining when a company does something good with their money by giving it to charities.

        But wait, they're getting something out of it, they're getting a tax writeoff and lots of PR! HOLY CRAP! What is this world coming to.

        If companies are giving money to poor starving people, thats a GOOD THING. Don't bring your prejudices against America into this.

        • Re:cool (Score:3, Insightful)

          by slavemowgli ( 585321 ) *
          I don't think anybody's really opposed to Bill Gates (or anyone) donating money to good causes - but on the other hand, most people (or most Slashdotters/geeks/etc. at least) also reserve the right to criticize Bill Gates for everything else he does. The fact that he's doing good things does not mean that we suddenly have to overlook all the bad things he's also doing.
  • hmm (Score:2, Funny)

    by Sv-Manowar ( 772313 )
    Not really surprising, the owners of google come from Stanford, Now they have made google the huge success they wanted it to be, they can move onto other things they want to approach.

    It will be interesting to see what else these guys can come up with in the coming years
  • by gihan_ripper ( 785510 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:47AM (#12254184) Homepage

    Though much maligned in our community, Bill and Melinda Gates [gatesfoundation.org] and Steve Case [se-alliance.org] have also set up charitable foundations.

    Of course, it's up to the reader to determine whether their goals are truly philanthropic or whether they serve to extend the agendas of Bill and Steve. More to the point, is any philanthropic organisation ever agenda-free?

    • by Tim ( 686 ) <timr@alumni.was[ ... u ['hin' in gap]> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:43AM (#12254439) Homepage
      Well, here in Seattle, a number of researchers are being paid by the Gates' Foundation to conduct applied research into malaria infection.

      Given that malaria is one of the biggest third-world killers, and that very few drug companies are willing to invest research money into drugs for poor people, I think the Gates' are actually doing some good work in this area.

      I suppose you could tie that to an "agenda," but you'd have to be awfully cynical.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Of course, it's up to the reader to determine whether their goals are truly philanthropic or whether they serve to extend the agendas of Bill and Steve.

      Why are those mutually exclusive? You use the word "agenda" as if it's synonymous with "evil." Can't someone have an agenda for good? What if it's Bill's agenda to wipe out malaria? Certainly Bill has business practices we abhor, but wiping out malaria is an unreserved miracle, no matter who does it. If that's part of his agenda then I hope he succeeds.

    • Bill and Melinda Gates and Steve Case have also set up charitable foundations.

      Great. Google is joining Wolfram and Hart.
  • Are these guys married? This sort of behaviour almost always stems from the wives of the great men. Often the widows, sadly.
  • gezz (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    this is just one step closer to googledot.org [googledot.org]
  • by LewsTherinKinslayer ( 817418 ) <lewstherinkinslayer@gmail.com> on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:51AM (#12254203) Homepage
    Everyone on /. loves to discuss whether or not google's rather benevolent attitudes about technology, innovation and being a business is genuine or not.

    Many like to say that google is somehow the golden child of corporations. That they are above all others, magically concerned with not only their own profits.

    Others like to say its all bullshit; a happy face they stick on to look more appealing to the masses. After all, any corporation is as evil as any other, and their primary concern for their stockholders is obviously profit.

    But who's right? I'd say that, as usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. I think the founders of Google and its staff truly, genuinely wish to keep themselves untainted. People always get a bad taste in their mouth when they hear about businesses like Enron. And I for one would certain prefer to employ the business of a company who has this positive attitude, its refreshing. By virtue of this admirable reputation, they generate more business. Seems win-win.
    • "I think the founders of Google and its staff truly, genuinely wish to keep themselves untainted."

      "Don't be evil".

      I think Google desparatley wish to APPEAR 'untainted' to keep their geek/hippy cred.

      IMHO Google is just another 100% red-blooded capitalist business, doing what they have to do, no matter what they claim to the contrary.

      I'm not saying that's a 'wrong' thing to be, but they should at least drop the BS and the fake bonhomie.

      Profit, market share and stockholder returns are Googles mantras, jus
    • I choose a third option.

      3. Google is really no better or worse than the average corporation, and the average corporation can and sometimes is benevolent.

      You see? It's not an either/or choice.
  • Corporation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by McGiraf ( 196030 )
    Google is now a publicly traded company. So by law they must put their stockholders interest above all. If their phylantropic action just spends money without any return on investment (tax, public image, publicity) they are liable to be sued by stock holders. The "Do no evil" mantra is now meaningless.

    Read thr book or see the documentary:
    http://www.thecorporation.com
    • Not really, they can point to their SEC filing and say it's part of the companys mission. Anyone investing should know what kind of company google is, and therefor can't sue it for not maximising profit at all cost.
  • It's too late for her now, because she passed away at a young age, but I hope that any future three legged kittens can be saved. :(
  • To the editors (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JDOHERTY ( 323140 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @08:54AM (#12254213)
    How and when did Slashdot become a press release spot for Google? Is this a technology story? The poster nor editor make any mention of other companies efforts in this area. Can we do something with 'Goole-giving' right now? Have they innovated the process? Do you think they'll have a 'Google-stock-picker' next, after all we're all need a little help?
  • Old news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DaoudaW ( 533025 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:00AM (#12254244)
    This is _so_ old news.

    The blog and of course the SEC Form S-1 were written in April, 2004. As far as I can tell nothing has changed since then except for a very brief coming soon website.

    Nothing to see here. Move on! Move on!
  • Someday??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CatsupBoy ( 825578 )
    We hope that someday this institution will eclipse Google itself in overall world impact by ambitiously applying innovation and significant resources to the largest of the world's problems.
    In otherwords, Google is domain squating.
  • by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @09:18AM (#12254308)
    ...but this story gives me yet another reason not to. I mean come on, a Google story once in awhile is valuable, as is a Firefox story once in awhile, or a Perl story every now and then.

    But for the past month, it seems that every day brings a new Google story or three to Slashdot. Then we start getting "news" stories like this [slashdot.org] which aren't news at all, but instead describe features of Google which have existed for at least a year. I suppose that I could submit a story about Google indexing belly-button lint, referencing a two paragraph article that I posted somewhere, and it would wind up on the /. front page.

    This story is a non-story, like many of the Google stories lately. Google.org has a bit of text promising to be philanthropic, in some undetermined manner, at some undetermined point in the future. How in $DEITY's name is this a news story? If I were to buy the .org version of my company's domain, and erect a similar site claiming that I want to do great things, would it be worthy of an entry on Slashdot's front page? Of course not.

    Does OSDN get a kickback from Google for every Google article posted here? I really want to know, because it's getting ridiculous, and if Slashdot doesn't provide a way to opt-out of the multitude of unnecessary Google articles, there's no way that I'm going to start paying for this.
    • This story is a non-story, like many of the Google stories lately. Google.org has a bit of text promising to be philanthropic, in some undetermined manner, at some undetermined point in the future. How in $DEITY's name is this a news story? If I were to buy the .org version of my company's domain, and erect a similar site claiming that I want to do great things, would it be worthy of an entry on Slashdot's front page? Of course not.

      That highly depends on how big/well-known your company is, I'd say. If

  • I'm interested to see if Google, using it's great clout and size, would try to get justice for those who are unjustly in bad positions (poor people in countries with corrupt governments, etc), or if they will simply toss money at the problems. I'm not saying that throwing billions at a problem isn't a good thing, but usually more good comes from people looking to enforce justice for those less fortunate than us.
  • forget kittens, if google really cares, they will save Toby [savetoby.com].
  • Gates Foundation [gatesfoundation.org] /waits for the "OMG IT'S FOR TEH TAXES" response.
  • by 3770 ( 560838 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @10:36AM (#12254712) Homepage
    Sergey Brin & Larry Page say they will do Philantropy.

    Conclusion: They, and Google, are the greatest on earth.

    Bill Gates is one of the largest philantropes on the planet.

    Conclusion: He, and Microsoft, is the spawn of satan.

    Don't misunderstand my sarcasm above. I think that what Sergey Brin & Larry Page are doing is great. But lets keep things in perspective. And lets not keep a dual standard here.

    I love Google, and I dislike Microsoft, but I know that to some extent I'm being irrational.
    • From what I understand, Bill Gates' foundation does not have anything to do with Microsoft, though, does it (other than being funded by money that Gates earned due to his job at M$)?

      That being said, there's another, more important point, too: the fact that someone (whether a person, company or any other entity) does some good things does not mean that all the bad things they do have to be overlooked. Even if M$ would directly fund charitable causes, I still would reserve the right to criticise them for the
      • Microsoft as a whole is a great company when it comes to charity.

        To start, Microsoft matches every donation we make, dollar for dollar, during the whole year. I was able to make some sizable contributions to local charities organizations, since however much I donated was automatically doubled.

        Also, a few months ago we had the annual charity fund drive within Microsoft, where the company hounds their employees for the whole month, asking them to give money to charities. Throughout this time they keep t
      • From what I understand, Bill Gates' foundation does not have anything to do with Microsoft, though, does it (other than being funded by money that Gates earned due to his job at M$)?

        Yes, other than the freakin' billions of dollars flowing from the one to the other, they don't have a single thing to do with each other. So, a pretty minor connection than.
  • by ProsperoDGC ( 569875 ) on Saturday April 16, 2005 @11:45AM (#12255063) Homepage
    I'm very amused by the complaints about Google starting a foundation. Yes, Google gets a tax break by donating to charity. But so do most US citizens when you give cash (or time, or gas expenses, or whatever) to charitable causes. So suggesting that Google is being somehow underhand by starting a foundation is a petty argument sourced in sheer cynicism... Unless you only contribute to charity for the tax break?

    The fact is, Google has scads of money just lying about the place. They can invest it, but sometimes the "return on investment" is better if that same money is invested in good works, such as scientific research, food programs, and the like. It depends on your definition of "return," I guess.

    Regardless of what you think about their ethics or business practices, Brin+Page, Gates, Case, and the like have chosen to invest their capital in ventures that will (ideally) generate more than a capital return in the short-term. By doing so through a foundation, they're demonstrating both good business sense and laudable philanthropy. They shouldn't be condemned for either.

  • The site is already slashdotted, here's the cache [66.102.9.104]
  • Saving 3 legged kittens? Feline amputation pales in comparison to the hideous cruely inflicted in the sick art of creating bonsai kittens [bonsaikitten.com].

    Phillip.
  • Why not set up a "Charity Search" function with a full list of valid charities and the classic Google search interface?

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