Yesterday, the bloggo-media-tweeter-sphere buzzed with the outing of Bill Gates as an almost secret Santa in Reddit's annual online holiday giving tradition. In keeping with his new career as an assistant to his wife's philanthropy, he gave away a cow. Try as I might, I can't ridicule a donation that provides $500 worth of livestock to needy families via charity Heifer International.
However, Bill Gates's gesture also brings up the question of what technology celebrities might give if they all went in on the secret Santa game. Here's my top 10.
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Back to Bill Gates. The cow was cute, but why not reach out to those truly in need? That is, he could throw a bone to outgoing Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and give away a Surface 2. At least then someone outside of Redmond would own one.
Apple CEO Tim Cook could gift a new Mac Pro desktop. You'll know the unit by its 200 possible configurations, its sky-high price tag (twice as much as comparable PC machines), and and its striking similarity to (1) something Godzilla might leave behind after eating a bad taco truck or (2) one of Darth Vader's missing body parts.
Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, recently found himself in the spotlight after his wacky Web transportation company uber-gouged users on the East Coast with cab fares that ran to hundreds of dollars to ride a couple of blocks during a snowstorm. In light of those price hikes, he could give away a gift certificate to ride in one of his cars -- but only for use in fair weather, unless you're dying to burn your own Benjamins for the ride.
Mark Zuckerberg is another technology luminary I can't ding too hard since he recently donated almost $1 billion to charity (how many cows is that?). On the other hand, the donation was made in Facebook stock, so those charities may indeed want to spend it all in one place.
Jack Dorsey of Twitter could send a Monopoly game, which he'll claim to have invented. Rest assured, he'll be swimming in play money after his pending IPO.
Steve Ballmer would send three gifts, just like he tripled profits during his tenure at Microsoft. However, he'd have to ask Stephen Sinofsky what to send, which means that whatever it was, it'd be broken and you couldn't figure it out anyway. Then he'd get booted from the game in favor of someone younger and with more hair.