CNBC News Releases

Musician and Activist Bono and Gates Foundation Founder Bill Gates sit down for CNBC & Facebook's Face to Face Collaboration at World Economic Forum




Becky Quick: To somebody who wasn't paying attention, maybe the casual observer, you two might seem like strange bedfellows. So how did you two get to know each other?

Bono: Yeah, no it wasn't like we met them after the U2 show. No, we care about the same things, and I was very excited to meet them. Bill had already changed the world once with, you know, the digital revolution, and we wanted to be with him when he changed the world twice. That's probably it.

Bill Gates: A mutual friend had been saying we should get together and I was really blown away when we first had the meeting. And we've been partners and pushing these causes ever since.

Becky Quick: What are causes that you both are kind of targeting in areas that you can work together?

Bono: So we invented RED as a sort of gateway drug to activism, really simple, you know? People were very upset about what they were seeing with this AIDS crisis. And whole countries, you'd have a third of the people in the country HIV positive. And I witnessed that up close and I realized that this problem is so big that we need to use everything. The United States is now leading the greatest intervention in the history of medicine, it is the remarkable – and I don't think Americans know just what you've done.

Bill Gates: So that organization is really telling the story about the progress, are people meeting their commitments. It's making sure we get people out to see the work firsthand, which is really a powerful thing, and speaking out. The creativity about these people who are far away and often it's told just as a sad story, but it's really a very positive story, that requires creativity. And Bono has been the best at figuring out how we make that work.

Becky Quick: Gentlemen, we have some questions from the Facebook community. And I'll throw a few of them at you. Fred King writes in. He says, "so many causes, how do you narrow your focus?"

Bill Gates: Well, there are basic things. Parents want their children to survive, they want them to be well fed, so that when they get a chance to learn, that their brain is fully developed. These are really basic needs. So those are things that, you know, the greatest inequity in the world, it's how you lift countries up so they can take care of themselves.

Bono: RED is example of being just clearly taking on one fight, a fight that we know we could win. It was madness that an accident of longitude and latitude, you know, where you live decided whether you would live. You've got this disease, AIDS, somewhere around where we live, you just took two pills. You've got this disease over there, you died. The Gates Foundation is investing in a vaccine, we hope there will be a vaccine in 10, 15 years. I don't know if you're optimistic?

Bill Gates: Yes.

Bono: Yes!

Becky Quick: We have a question from Mary Leahy who says, "Who was the one person in your life who inspired you the most to care about others?"

Bill Gates: Well, I spend a lot of time with philanthropists, and one of the things we do is have people go around and talk about where they came to giving. You know, often the parents had limited resources, but they were giving to things they cared about. So when you have these people who get lots of resources, that habit, you know, scales up. It's incredible, you know, we are seeing a positive move towards philanthropy. But in my case, my parents were probably the biggest influence.

Bono: But I think, you know, it might be my faith – and I don't talk about my faith a lot because I find people who do a pain the arse.

Becky Quick: Well gentlemen, I just want to say thank you to both of you. We really appreciate your time and everything that you all are working on.

Bono: Thank you, Becky, for being interested.

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