You can review the latest Business in Vancouver book review below, which features contributions from UBC Library’s Jan Wallace and UBC Bookstore’s Treena Chambers.

This article from Business in Vancouver March 16-22, 2010; issue 1064


Throwing (lots of) money at the world’s problems

Tech Billionaires: Reshaping philanthropy in a quest for a better world

by Lewis D. Solomon

Transaction Publishers, 2009

Over the past 10 years, a new breed of entrepreneur-philanthropist has emerged. These wealthy billionaires, often from the high-tech industry, use their capital to make social investments that tackle problems that have not been adequately addressed by government or business. In addition to donating to more traditional non-profit organizations, they invest in commercial social enterprises where they can apply their business and entrepreneurial skills to help create viable businesses, take risks and impose professional performance measurement techniques.

This book describes how tech billionaires are designing new philanthropic patterns that differ from those created a century ago by John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. The new philanthropists give while they are alive and participate in shaping the projects they donate to. They create new frameworks for investment, from microfinance organizations to non-profit venture capital funds. They invest in social enterprises such as low-cost health-care clinics, filmmaking with a social message and water purification innovations. They test new forms of social enterprise and withdraw their investments from businesses that are not profitable.

Solomon profiles the philanthropic activities of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Pierre Omidyar’s microfinance network, Jeffrey Skoll’s work with motion pictures, Stephen Case’s Revolution LLC and the work of Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page in creating to invest in companies that tackle systemic societal problems.

Social equity stock markets are already starting to form, with Brazil’s BOVESPA providing an early example of a social stock exchange that matches non-profit organizations with donors. The line between business and social well-being is becoming blurred as new hybrid forms of philanthropy create new partnerships.

Social entrepreneurs, philanthropists and anyone hoping to win philanthropic investments will find Tech Billionaires well worth reading. •

Jan Wallace is head of the David Lam Management Research Library at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly

By Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff

Princeton University Press

Don’t be put off by the size of this book. In This Time is Different, Reinhart and Rogoff walk us through our current economic problems. Then they look back 800 years, and illustrate how each crisis has been described as different from the one before. They urge us to look at our actions in the good times and prepare for the inevitable decline. Debate debt and defaults around the water cooler, with the facts to back you up. Oh yeah – they throw in funny stories as well.

Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy

By Martin Lindstrom

Broadway Business

Marketing may not be brain surgery, but in Buyology Lindstrom makes it neuroscience. He challenges many of our assumptions about why people buy. Combining real-life experience and scientific research, Lindstrom weaves together an entertaining and informative tale. He explores our relationship to brands, logos, product placement, rituals and other sensory inputs and examines the roles they play in creating brand loyalty. Before you decide where to invest your ad dollars, invest in this book. Buyology might not change your game plan, but it will give you something to think about.

Road to Respect: Path to Profit

By Erica Pinsky

Self-published; first edition

“Do unto others.” In Road to Respect, Pinsky illustrates how valuable that lesson can be in today’s workplace. Personal reflections are combined with case studies in an engaging read. The lessons in Road to Respect give you a roadmap to take your policies from paper and apply them to people. In today’s ever-changing and multicultural world, retaining and recruiting employees is crucial to a company’s financial success. If your goal is to be an “Employer of Choice,” Road to Respect can help you get there.

Treena Chambers is the marketing technology co-ordinator at the UBC Bookstore.

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