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Doing Well by Doing Good: A Conversation with Matthew Flannery and John Wood

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Published on Jun 25, 2012

[Recorded: June 12, 2012]
The man who dies rich, dies disgraced
Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919)

Andrew Carnegie made a fortune in steel. His net worth was roughly $300 billion in today's dollars. Then he gave it all away, mostly to build schools, universities, museums and libraries. When Carnegie died, his last $30 million went to charities, foundations and pensioners. Carnegie believed that philanthropy was the only reason to amass an enormous fortune.

Today, we're creating more wealth than at any time in history. Who are today's Carnegies? They're called social entrepreneurs. They combine a passion for inciting social change with the tough discipline of a global corporation. It's about creating innovative products and services to address desperate human needs -- and insisting on long-term, measurable results. Can social entrepreneurship reduce illiteracy, disease, malnutrition, environmental degradation and other pressing ills?

Matt Flannery and John Wood came to the Computer History Museum to share their first-hand experiences in using business tactics to do good works. Matt began developing Kiva in late 2004 as a side-project while working as a computer programmer at TiVo, Inc. Former Microsoft executive John Wood founded Room to Read, which publishes and supplies books, builds libraries and schools, and provides scholarships for girls to developing countries. It's a classic bottom-up strategy based on Woods' belief that world change starts with educated children. He told his story in a bestselling memoir, Leaving Microsoft to Change the World.

These two Revolutionaries share a background as successful technology entrepreneurs who made the transition to becoming successful social entrepreneurs. How and why did they do it? What traits and skills were transferable, which were not? Is there something endemic about the technology industry that generates so many of these 21st century philanthropists? What qualities do they think are crucial to bringing about social change? And, what advice would they give to the next generation -- of both technology and social entrepreneurs?

Join KQED's Dave Iverson for an inspiring, educational and thought-provoking conversation with two leading social entrepreneurs.

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