As we head into the home stretch for the year—there are just three five-day workweeks left—there is still time for bold moves. For evidence, look to recent thunderbolts from a trio of tech titans: Bill Gates, Samsung, and Google.
Gates, the Microsoft (MSFT) founder who undoubtedly will best be remembered as a philanthropist, is launching a multi-billion-dollar clean-energy fund in collaboration with a who’s-who group of tech billionaires. He timed the announcement for this week’s climate-change talks in Paris in order to include commitments by several nations and other philanthropists. Gates knows that even his vast wealth isn’t enough to solve every problem. He isn’t the first to try to invest a cleaner planet, and in fact he has made energy investments before. Still, it’s impressive that being late to the game in the form of a comprehensive investing plan doesn’t bother him.
Samsung (SSNLF) already has accomplished the improbable, rising within a generation from a run-of-the-mill Korean food-trading company to one of the world’s great technology conglomerates. Late last week, it announced a $740 million investment in its so-called biologics business, a contract manufacturer for global pharmaceutical makers. I visited Samsung’s drug-making business last summer as part of my reporting on Samsung’s de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee. Samsung’s audacious goal with its new business line is to reproduce its success with semiconductors in a completely different field that nevertheless shares certain characteristics with chipmaking. Samsung’s bet is that manufacturing prowess, scale, massive capital investment, and aggressive marketing can add up to another big win.
Google (GOOG) , too, is making a major commitment to a business it’s already in, cloud computing. The week before Thanksgiving it plucked from its own board the co-founder of VMware (VMW), Diane Greene, to run its cloud business. Google is a major presence in cloud services but a relative also-ran by reputation, compared with Amazon’s Amazon Web Services and Microsoft’s Azure offering. By buying Greene’s startup, which never publicly revealed its products or strategy, Google gets a seasoned technologist and business leader to fix that problem. (Greene once took me sailing in her trimaran on the San Francisco Bay; I described her company as the cultural anti-Google. Times change.)
May the balance of your 2015 be bold too.
This article first appeared in the daily Fortune newsletter Data Sheet. Subscribe here for a daily dose of analysis from Adam Lashinsky and a curation of the day’s technology news from Heather Clancy.