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World’s richest doctor gave away millions, then steered the cash to his company (statnews.com)
302 points by HarryHirsch on Mar 6, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 134 comments



I once was on the board of a charity; on my watch we established a policy giving future boards the right to decline contributions for any reason or none, and the duty to decline them if they had too many strings attached.

It was a good move; a few years later somebody tried to force human resources policy with a gift, and the board was able to say "no" and point to us, their predecessors.


To be tax-deductible to the donor, donations to charities have to be "gifts." If they have conditions that confer value back to the donor they are not gifts. Also gifts cannot be earmarked to be directed a specific beneficiary of the charity.

Also, charities have to be aware that they may be generating "unrelated business income" by accepting a donation in trade for something of value, as such income is taxable.


Sure, it's the letter of the law that donations have to be gifts. But nonprofit development (=fundraising) work has lots of gray areas.

A simple example: gifts may be restricted. Restricting a gift is as simple as writing a $10 check to the Sierra Club and writing "spotted owl conservation" on the memo line. If the Sierra Club doesn't have a spotted owl program, they're supposed to get your permission to apply the gift elsewhere.

If your gift were for half a million dollars and restricted that way, you'd be trying to set policy with it.

Not all attempts by donors to drive policy are harmful to the org. And, not all such attempts are self-dealing or other fiscal shenanigans. Usually they're far more banal clashes of egos.


I think the crazy way Donald Trump used his charity demonstrates that it is probably pretty easy to abuse charities in the US. I am not trying to make a political point, I'm sure there are liberals who take advantage of charities too. But if Trump wasn't running for President, would anyone have noticed how the funds were being used?

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-election...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-used-258000-fr...


And likewise, the reason that Soon-Shiong's actions are under scrutiny is that his name has been mentioned as a possible director of the National Institutes of Health (although Obama's pick of Francis Collins is being kept on for the time being).


That kind of thing isn't usually above board, though, is it? If I give a charity a million dollars and then make a suggestion, the subtext is clear even though there aren't any official conditions.


Give 'em a megabuck and they'll probably put you on the board. Three Ws: work, wallop, wealth.


>somebody tried to force human resources policy with a gift

Out of sheer curiosity, what was the policy?


Not the GP, but it isn't uncommon for a large donor to have an opinion about a staff hiring decision. They could easily say, "I'll pay that salary if you hire X"


Exactly. The donor tried, by partially funding it, to create a position that wasn't consistent with the org's objectives.


This is what happens when honest and well meaning people start with taking a nice diner, then a nice watch from someone who presents these things as "its nothing, we are just thankful." Then before you know it you are deep in this kind of stuff with no way of getting out.


Susan G Komen is the reason I stopped donating to large charities. Not that anyone would notice the funds I can provide...


I had to look that up specifically, but I've heard about Red Cross stuff, and the UN also has a lot of waste :(

https://www.reddit.com/r/explainlikeimfive/comments/3nv0vh/e...


Wouldn't they have been able to say no anyways?


Yes but they wouldn't have any political cover other than "we don't want to do that." This allowed them to point backwards in time to say "that prior board won't allow us to accept gifts with ________ condition(s)."

Parsing hairs of course, and it's likely 90% of the board or more was the same, but it's enough.


> Parsing hairs of course

It's always much easier to say:

"we already have a policy precedent that doesn't allow this."

than to say

"we can do anything we want, and we choose not to do this."

And there's a substantive difference beyond just perception. With the former, you're ruling in favor of a principled stand regardless of the person/policy behind the particular request at hand. With the latter, you're ruling against a particular person/request.


Be careful, because a written policy can cut both ways. It can be used to attack the slightest inconsistency in your decisions.

Real life example: A young lady suffered a slip and fall on the freshly waxed floor of a shop. The shop had a written policy against waxing the floors during business hours, but the janitor had done so anyway. The shop's written policy was used as evidence of negligence in court. They would have had a better outcome if they had no policy at all.

Once you have the policy, even though you wrote it, you can't declare that you're ignoring the policy or that you're changing it retroactively. Well, you could, but you'd look foolish and lose all credibility.


They would have had a better outcome if they had no policy at all.

"Better outcome" meaning they would have been able to shirk responsibility and the woman would have been sent packing with nothing? I weep for the future.

Think about what you're arguing for.


If they get punished MORE for having the policy than for not, that incentivizes having NO policy, which leads to more minor injuries without preventing the major injury.

Similar to how no one in industry reads patents (opposite of the intended purpose of knowledge-sharing) because they get treble damages if they are found infringing while being aware of the patent.


I believe the parent is arguing for act-consequentialism, rather than rule-consequentialism. A similar argument is against the usefulness of case-law in the court system—it often prevents a judge from making the best possible decision for the particulars of the case.


From the Supreme Court confirmation hearings I've paid attention to, it seems that there are reasonable questions on both sides of stare decisis, but I don't think moving to a non-deterministic legal system would be the answer.


An argument for the usefulness of case law is that provides some damping and feedback against the consequences of judgments that the judge merely thinks is the best possible decision.


Yep. Same with "Privacy Policies".

If you have one, the FTC can come after you for violation of said privacy policy. Fines can result.

If you don't have one, FTC has nothing.


> If you have one, the FTC can come after you for violation of said privacy policy. Fines can result.

> If you don't have one, FTC has nothing.

Surely this is in some sense as it should be? If a company has no privacy policy, then it explicitly offers me no guarantees about how it treats my data, and I can do business with it (or not) accordingly. However, if a company has a privacy policy, then I should be able to rely on it; it shouldn't be just feel-good boilerplate.


If you collext/store certain kinds of personal information, privacy policies are required by law in many jurisdictions, including California.

Also, if you make any privacy-related claims, the FTC can come down on you for misrepresentations. A clear, visible Privacy Policy provides an opportunity to clarify what might otherwise be taken as unqualified privacy claims provided elsewhere.


They would also have had a better outcome if they had invested a little more in training the janitor to follow their policy. If you're going to have a policy, it needs to be substantive rather than merely cosmetic.


Blaming a third party is always stronger. Because they are not there to be negotiated with, and there is strength in numbers.


It sounds like a rare case of relinquishment of power.


Easier to shift the blame on those who came before. Ancestor /authority bias/précédent. It's a smart move.


In nonprofit work, it's really risky to so say "no" to a donor. Typically the bigger donors know each other and can gang up on the executive director or the board unless things are really transparent.


Related to this, sometimes explaining to people why charity is not what it sells itself as (altruism) is difficult without significant context. In this context, it's easy to understand, but to someone with a belief that charity is always altruism, it is hard to show them why it is almost never purely about altruism, and sometimes very far from it.


Back in early 2016, I was in awe of many of the "Unicorn" startups that were defying all odds to raise money and huge valuations, and earning the praise of the press world-wide. Zenefits, Theranos, Nant Health, Uber... clearly the founders of these companies were made of some entirely different material than I was. Their success was so awe inspiring.

Now, it seems as though ~100% of these sorts of companies are up to some shenanigans. It makes me seriously question the validity of any tech company that is lauded by the press.


http://paulgraham.com/founders.html

"What We Look for in Founders

4. Naughtiness

Though the most successful founders are usually good people, they tend to have a piratical gleam in their eye. They're not Goody Two-Shoes type good. Morally, they care about getting the big questions right, but not about observing proprieties. That's why I'd use the word naughty rather than evil. They delight in breaking rules, but not rules that matter."


I would argue that:

1) Zenefits having software tools to specifically skirt state laws about employee certification requirements

2) Theranos lying about clinical results

3) Nant misrepresenting order data to their shareholders

4) Uber having a set of formalized HR processes that facilitate the sexual harassment of female employees

all go beyond "naughty". Plus, I don't think that PG would be excited about the financial impacts that each of those behaviors have had on the respective companies' share prices if he were a shareholder in those companies.


I think the issue is "they delight in breaking rules". Why delight in it? There's a big difference between "I'm willing to break minor rules when I have to" and "I enjoy being naughty for its own sake". I suspect its a lot easier to break big rules when you're having fun breaking small ones.


> I suspect its a lot easier to break big rules when you're having fun breaking small ones.

That sounds plausible, but I suspect the correlation is very weak. Most people follow rules in a bizarrely idiosyncratic and context-sensitive fashion. For example, taking the escalator when going to the gym to use the stair-master.


Most people don't bat an eye about crossing in the middle of a small street. It's technically against the law, but hey.


But is it fun?

What rules are fun to break?


You've never tried a petty rebellion as a kid? It's fun. Even as an adult, you can get a thrill by calling in sick and going out.

There's a reason we love to watch crime dramas.


The advice is equivalent to "we want your break the rules, but don't get caught". It's encouraging misbehavior while trying to distance from the consequences.


I think with Uber the "naughty" could be more that they'd set up shop in countries without e-taxi regulation set up, skirt around taxi laws, and become too big and valued by the community before the government would have time to react.


I really don't understand why Zenefit's script was such a big deal. Have you ever had to sit through a bunch of slides and be forced to spend x hours staring at something you can speed read through in minutes? The regulations didn't care about testing real knowledge, just time spent on the module. Anyone with a slight bit of naughtiness will hack around this.


You're overstating the case on #4.


Agreed. Would you accept:

uber having a set of informal HR processes that fail to protect employees from persistent harassment


> 4) Uber having a set of formalized HR processes that facilitate the sexual harassment of female employees

Is this publicly available information? First time I hear of it.


But some of those companies were breaking the rules that matter.

Being 23andMe selling accurate genetic information to their customers outside the purview of the FDA is being naughty. They could do it because the science was there.

In the case of Theranos, selling diagnostics that don't work is not being naughty. It isn't evading useless regulation. It is selling pseudoscience.

Unfortunately, many investors and the business press cannot tell the difference.


Agreed. 23AndMe side-stepped FDA red tape.

The thing that annoys me with Theranos was they could have found scientifically justified ways of significantly improving diagnostic efficiency but chose not to. Other startups are working on low-cost methods of providing lab tests in developing areas, without the pseudoscience.


s/pseudoscience/fraud/


Yeah, I am quite ambivalent about this 'rule'. I think you start on a slippery slope once you can rationalize this type of behavior. Also, would you be comfortable explaining your actions to a journalist/public? If not, chances are there is shadiness occurring ...


Whether you'd be comfortable explaining your actions to a journalist/public is a very poor heuristic for whether your actions are right or wrong.

The public/press distort and misreport all the time. There are plenty of reasons to be cautious there.


Please note that I wrote:

"If not, CHANCES ARE there is shadiness occurring".

I used this to nuance and to denote the fact that this is a rule of thumb, not one of the 10 commandments.


Some rules are best left unstated. By formalizing them everybody is incentivized to stretch them. By formalizing them we fool ourselves into believing that they're more objective than they really are.

A [poor] analogy would be false precision. By stating something in overly specific terms we can communicate something completely opposite of what we mean.

In the case of something like "naughtiness" there's really no decent way to communicate what the author has in mind, not even in an approximate fashion. It's not reducible to a term divorced from the messy details of real-world context. And that presumes what the author has in mind is at all consistent. Better leave it unstated and leave one's actions to speak in their stead.


The problem I have with this, is naughtiness only works if everyone else is following the rules.

and what rules matter, is retrospective. I was a big proponent of Uber initially, I felt they were doing the right thing, but clearly they have gone down a path that I cannot condone.

You need to have a respect for the rule of law and the enforcement of contracts, otherwise, people won't do business with each other or trust one another.


I am naughty.

You are up to shenanigans.

They are criminally corrupt.


Ah yes, of course, another of those irregular verbs from 'Yes, Minister' - I have an independent mind, You are eccentric, He is round the twist...


In other words he wants founders who will do shady things to make him a profit but not to the point where he loses plausible deniability.


Then it gets down to: what rules matter?


"Fire is hard, cars are hard, and if you think you can fly, start from the ground."


Rules don't matter. Ethics do.

The former exist in the service of the latter. One problem we have with contemporary US culture is condoning a sort of twisted narcissistic, psychopathic assertion that because competently breaking the rules is sometimes ethical, breaking the rules is a sign of competence.


"Don't be evil."


But when "the ends justify the means"?


The ends may justify the means in abstract, but they don't among humans.

http://lesswrong.com/lw/uv/ends_dont_justify_means_among_hum...


The means you use determine the ends you get.


"Do the right thing."


> Morally, they care about getting the big questions right

Theranos failed here big time.

So did Uber on the HR front at least.


This is effectively Raskolnikov's justification for committing murder in Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. Sorry for the spoiler, but you've had 150 years to read it.


Sounds like a good way to back a founder that's going to end up buried in an avalanche of lawsuits.


I am not defending this doctor. its down right despicable. Unfortunately, the sponsor of STAT news is no better (not questioning their editorial bias per se, but i think its worth point out)

Lest not forget, that STAT news is sponsored in part by Janssen, which gave us this lovely piece in highline last year:

http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/miracleindustry/americas-...

Janssen's parent company, Johnson and Johnson, was sued on these accounts and paid out an excess combined over 3 billion to settle lawsuits related to the marketing, selling, distribution, and deception employed to sell risperdal to as many people as possible.

http://articles.latimes.com/2012/apr/11/nation/la-na-nn-risp...

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/ny-ag-janssen-pays-...


Most news venues accept advertisements, even from somewhat controversial sources. This does not mean that sponsors have any editorial influence, which would be a serious allegation.

Unless you are accusing STAT of violating journalistic ethics, these sort of comments are off-topic and irrelevant (and hence downvoted).


I wasn't, which I stated.

Its not however, off topic or baseless. I think it is a great example of the medical industry (with pharmaceutical companies being a subset of that as well) being self serving even if it is dangerous to others (which this donation scheme isn't per say, however it is very suspicious and at the very least I would say not the way we want to business in a polite society)


It's a strange road to go down, isn't it, to say I'm not alleging anything, but here's an allegation. Saying you think it's relevant is the allegation, which you both make and deny making.


Here's my mistake, I really am not questioning their editorial. I was trying to point out that the sites sponsors were Janssen pharma, with the focus I was trying to swing in as "Lest we forget, STAT news sponsor Janssen Phamasutical...

I can see how it can be misinterpreted

I was red the emphasis to be back on the sponsor not on stat news


I was put on that awful drug when I was all of 11 years old. In most countries it's a crime to directly market pharmaceuticals to the public and for damn good reason. Too bad the pharma lobby has both Dems and republicans by the balls.


Sorry for insulting your country, but I think many industries have both Dems and Republicans by the balls.


I'm not going to argue with you there. Most people in the US know who has the power to make policy, and who policies are made for. The only options for fighting it involve rat mazes set up by those with power, and there are only false goals.


Which is why I think the #1 most important goal the USA has this decade, is altering the underlying democratic system. If you fix that, then everything else becomes fixable.


And the far right wing has about a 2 decade head start of pushing it in the wrong direction, sadly.


Very Kafkaesque indeed


The University of Utah deal — laid out in contracts obtained by STAT through a public records request ...

Four tax experts who reviewed the contracts at STAT’s request all agreed that the Utah deal was suspicious. Two said it appeared to violate federal tax rules governing certain charitable donations, amounting to indirect self-dealing by Soon-Shiong and his foundations.

This story highlights the imperative need for public-benefit institutions (especially those that use taxpayer dollars) to have their tax records be public. The clampdown on FOIA requests (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13586952) and the refusal of a certain whitehouse-dweller to make his own dealings public make me think this scheme might be more pervasive that just this instance. Yeah, it's a high-profile doctor who got busted; however, the people who craft these kinds of schemes tend to replicate their successes across many high-profile clients.


Yes, this exactly.


It's unclear to me what was gained by this?

1- He got a tax deduction: ok, but it's not like that money came back to him tax free somehow.

2- His company got inflated numbers: ok, but not revenue. They only inflated order numbers.

3- Presumably a very small percentage of his donation came back to him in the form of dividends: ok, doesn't seem worth it to me.

4- His reputation may have been enhance: but if the deal was structured as a gift of $10mil worth of free testing wouldn't it having been just as appreciated?

I fail to see how he made out like a villain in this. In fact, we used to do this type of thing when I worked at Ben & Jerry's back in the day. Just structured more as donated product, not donated money that must be used to buy product.


By inflating his numbers he was able to get funding from investors at better terms. So basically he scammed his investors.

The difference between direct donation of services vs money to buy those services is that the direct donation would have actually lowered his order numbers and profitability, while the monetary donation raises those same numbers.

Also, by donating the money he gets to invest in his company tax free because the donation is a write off, gets filtered into the company which raises it's value, but he doesn't have to declare any capital gain, which he would have to do if he just put the money into the company (not to mention the tax on the money in the first place).

It's all an accounting trick, but it's all about the optics.


Hmmm... He only inflated order numbers to investors, he didn't inflate revenue, per the article.

So that could be looked at in two different ways. Investors could see a stagnant growth in revenue while orders increase and get scared or they could look at the order trend and get excited.

I think if Apple sold 40% more phones and revenue was stagnant, investors would freak.

As far as a way to fund his company, here's two ways to put money in the business that we seem to be comparing here:

1- Take money you've earned, pay taxes on it, and then reinvest or loan to your company.

2- Take money you've earned, donate it to a charity which saves you paying taxes on that amount, then have the charity buy product from the company thus putting the money (less expenses to provide product) back into the company.

If the incremental cost to provide the tests is less than the tax rate, this could be an efficient way to fund the company, but it results in no increase of ownership or interest gain.


Is there any proof for this claim: "By inflating his numbers he was able to get funding from investors at better terms"

The article does state the inflated numbers were reported to investors, but what makes you think this was material in any way?


What makes you think that any numbers reported to investors are material in any way? Why do we even report numbers? This is, after-all, the future, where profitability doesn't matter.


from the article

   the deal made it possible for his company to inflate, by more than 50 
   percent, the number of test orders it reported to investors late last year 
   while updating them on interest in a flagship product, a diagnostic tool 
   known as GPS Cancer. 
Have individual investors been questioned? No. But that's a significant increase in total orders.

Also, if this was so above-board, want to take bets on whether this was disclosed to investors as money coming from related entities?


While just knowing about jerk moves like this keeps me awake at night with frustration, he will go on to live a fun and comfortable life most of us only dream about. All the Internet vitriol in cyberspace doesn't equal a slap on the wrist, unless he gets the attention of 4chan I guess.


Makes me realize that 4chan has been eerily silent over the last years. Wouldn't mind if they rediscovered their social responsibility, for teh lulz.


GPS Cancer has to be one of the most frustrating combining of two words I've heard trotted out in a while.


To save you the click and since it's at the bottom:

>The contract with the University of Utah earmarked $2 million from Soon-Shiong’s donation for scientific and administrative work. It says the remaining $10 million of the gift was required to be spent on “Omics Analysis.”


The n-gate summary of this one is richer than Soon-Shiong:

"A reporter catches some rich guy laundering money through a university, but not in time to stop him, or have any other effect. Hackernews spends some time being nonprofit fiduciary experts, until someone reminds us that Beatus Graham publicly espoused the holy virtue of Naughtiness, at which point the wagons are circled and the Doublethink Cavalry defends the pioneers. Meanwhile, the money launderer is being considered for Federal office."

http://n-gate.com/


Hadn't heard of n-gate, pretty funny :)


You're unlikely to be worth $9 billion through charity and benevolence.


This is true, but I feel like you're trying to draw an inference here that doesn't really work. You're unlikely to be worth $9 billion through a love of hamburgers, but that doesn't mean somebody worth $9 billion is unlikely to enjoy hamburgers either.


I was cynically implying lavishly successful business people are often shrewd, calculating, and clever insomuch as any generous gift is likely also a form of investment


What if you start out at say 50B and donate a 41B away to charity to help address huge challenges facing humanity - call it something hokey like "the giving pledge" - and end up at 9B?


Definitely possible, but like the parent poster mentioned, unlikely.

Far more people have intentionally built their way to $9B than have intentionally reduced their fortune to $9B.


The move was ethically challenged and morally bankrupt, but you have to admit it was a pretty clever hack.


One wonders whether it's particularly clever - it's the same model that is used by the US when aid programs force the aid recipients to hire US contracting/construction companies.

[1] https://www.thenation.com/article/usaid-helping-haiti-recove...


Sorry if I'm being naive, but isn't that like owning a McDonald's and giving homeless people money as long as they spend it at your restaurant? I don't think it's nearly as bad.


Sure, except in this analogy McDonalds needs to be 100 times more expensive than local restaurants.


I'm not sure why people are praising a kickback that was documented in a set of contracts as clever - The fact that you've read about it means that it was done poorly.

All that's left is an illegal and unethical transaction designed to mislead investors.


Yeah, I was wondering who got hurt here -- the University at least got $2m plus what seems to be valid omics data -- when I figured out it was the investors. The money was carefully laundered through Univ of Utah so this seemed like an arms-length contract, rather than self-dealing.


You're right, very clever, but morally dubious, especially around something as important as cancer screening. Soon-Shiong would probably argue that he was able to get valuable results for the university while also supporting a cancer detection technology that would be a net-win for the future.

Definitely shady, but did the donation still make the world a better place?


Depending on the industry/area involved, "clever" might better be described as "fairly standard practice".

This isn't by any measure a new idea.


What could they have done differently to make the donation unquestionably legal and morally sound (while still maximizing their personal benefit)? Does the company need to donate the services directly?


The company could have donated the services, but that wouldn't have had the same impact. The donor got a big tax deduction, which then translated into revenue and data collection for his company. If the company had simply donated the services, it wouldn't have looked like they got a big contract. They also wouldn't have gotten the cash infusion, from the founder and funneled through the university.


I think this is the most interesting question in the thread.

When viewed as a donation of services instead of cash, he's simply giving his product away for free in order to collect data to improve his product. In its own right, I'd argue that certainly should be considered charity and deserving of praise.

The questionable part about this transaction seems to pertain to the tax deductions taken. However, it strikes me as unlikely that the loss on the donation withstanding any reasonable tax deduction would be covered by any personal payback on the donation.


It's less tax deductions (though those should be questioned!) and more using this to deceive investors into his company.


Tax deductions and possibly accounting fraud.


Clever-ish but almost certainly illegal, the University should be very concerned about maintaining their nonprofit status. Self-dealing like that with no variance power is one of the very bright red lines that (c)(3)s should not cross.


Yes. Lord knows we need more ethically-challenged, morally-bankrupt, clever people in this world.


So they all benefited. Win-Win.

Even the "journalist" writing about it benefited for they had something to write up.

Charitable donations are first and foremost tax planning schemes. He used it as intended and all parties agreed to it. (And the government)

Is the only issue here that the author is jealous of their business acumen?


Reminds me of Microsoft, USAID and other similar companies/organizations.


The winner in the cancer diagnostic space is going to be who can sequence the most cancers vs germlines. At least where cell free DNA is concerned.


We already know the major drivers in most tumor types. These are the early mutations that you are going to look for in cell free DNA. Additional cancer-normal pairs are not going to elucidate many new driver mutations.

Only careful prospective trials will identify sensitive and specific diagnostics. Those will be the winners (and they will probably be academics).


[flagged]


Donald is that you? Is "redsummer" a nod to the intensely orange fake tan you use?


Find on this page: "Sackler" Phrase not found

?

Lay off the drugs.


> Purdue Pharma, which is 100% privately owned and operated by the Sackler family (a family worth over $14 billion,including Raymond Sackler) is well known for the very successful research and development and very aggressive marketing of the opiate and extremely addictive drug and narcotic Oxycontin.

And that's in an article which also contains fawning phrases such as

> Sackler was privileged to enjoy the friendship, advice and guidance of a host of scientific and academic experts

Anyway, neither "Sackler" nor "Purdue" show up as words in that article. So? I mean, imagine it did contain that phrase, but didn't outright state "this is a bad thing to do". Then it still would be totally up in the air whether it's a bad thing to do.

I'll just note that out of three replies the two purely abusive ones that aren't even intelligent or funny, are the top ones. Herp derp, are you Republican or on drugs, oll? Meanwhile, we at least learned something about ctrl+f, context, priorities, and the Sackler family, and the nature of people who look away. Oh my, someone saw the comment twice, everybody should downvote it. Copy & paste spamming: turn on showdead, look at their comment history, and see just how needy it is to make that connection. I'd say they went through the trouble of digging up some links on a subject they read about in the past, and after posting it here, remembered another discussion about opioids in America, where that comment is also on topic. And that's "copy paste spamming"? That's just being efficient and straightforward, to make this into anything else is where it gets twisted and sickly. All of this is interesting, but not in ways any of you are aware of.


> No surprises that they were heavy Clinton donors.

Why is this supposedly obvious and how is it actually related to the article or your citations?


This guy appears to be copy/paste spamming - this is the second time I've seen this exact post today. I've down voted, you should too.


501(c)3 organizations exist for two reasons:

1. Funnel money to cronies or to support your useless relatives by buying them directorships.

2. Destroy social movements by tangling up the leaders in grant-writing and administrivia.

https://www.amazon.com/Revolution-Will-Not-Funded-Non-Profit...


I'm doubting you've ever volunteered at a soup kitchen.


I have, and I've found ways to be involved in civil society throughout my adult life without needing to write a grant, record board minutes, or negotiate an ED comp package.


So which category does the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation fall under?


There's been an argument that B&MGF's intellectual property focus has been self serving.

Nothing heree to that specific end, but a lot on the organisation's IP focus: https://duckduckgo.com/?q=gates+foundation+intellectual+prop...

I'm digging further.

I actually strongly agree with population and reproduction programmes. In strong opposition to GP.


Or the Zuckerbergs?


It's not yet clear if the Zuckerberg foundation will accomplish meaningful humanitarian goals, or serve as an ingenious device to funnel wealth to his relatives.

Melinda and Bill have done pretty well on the humanitarian bit.


To date the Zuckerberg foundation has given $75 million to SF General Hospital as well as committed to giving $3 billion to establish the Biohub in San Francisco. They've committed to giving 99% of their shares to the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative which is currently valued at something like $50 billion. Paying the smartest doctors and scientists in the world to cure diseases is a pretty good way to have a humanitarian impact.


As far as I can tell, Biohub is a medical R&D company. It will keep control over all IP developed by it, and sell licenses (As opposed to the Gates foundation, which makes its work freely available.)

By the same logic, Pfizer is a humanitarian charity - it too employs the world's smartest doctors to try to cure diseases.


Nope -- The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a for-profit company which allows them to lobby, etc.

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is a non-profit research entity that has received funding from the CZI, and the IP / license fees will be shared between CZ Biohub and the research institutions that they're partnering with (UCSF, Stanford, and UC Berkeley). Researchers will also have the ability to enter their IP into the public domain (with Biohub approval).

It'd be more similar to Pfizer if Pfizer fired all their sales and marketing staff as well as funneled all of their profits into additional research instead of paying billions of dollars to shareholders every year.

The CZ Biohub is basically a West Coast Broad Institute.


This whole story is about a doctor, remember... They don't hand out sainthoods in Med School...


Remote control sterilization[1]. Using India's poor for medical experiments[2].

[1] http://time.com/2963130/the-future-of-birth-control-remote-c...

[2] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2908963/Judges-deman...


I'm really enjoying the zero millions of dollars I made from my hackerspace.




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