In an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek published Thursday, Bill Gates criticized tech companies for doing charity work more focused on technological gimmickry than helping the poor.
Gates was asked about Google's Project Loon, an effort to bring broadband to developing countries by floating transmitters on balloons. "When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you. When a kid gets diarrhea, no, there’s no website that relieves that," Gates said.
Google's Project Loon has been criticized as an attempt to increase market share. In an article published in the MIT Technology Review, African entrepreneurs described why they thought the project was ill-conceived, with one noting that the problem isn't connectivity, it's the high price of smartphones and computers.
Later in the Bloomberg interview, Gates took on tech moguls who devote their money to exploring space. The billionaire said he saw no connection between what Silicon Valley space entrepreneurs do and "improving the state of humanity": "I guess [space exploration is] fun, because you shoot rockets up in the air. But it’s not an area that I’ll be putting money into."
The Seattle Times reported in 2012 on Jeff Bezos' creation of a company to make space travel cheaper. Bezos was also investing $42 million in a clock that would run for 10,000 years, the Seattle Times reported.
The Gates Foundation works to alleviate extreme poverty and poor health in developing countries, among other initiatives.