Google Gets Another Leg Up On Microsoft at Waterloo

The University of Waterloo (about 1.5 hours west of Toronto) has long been one of the best recruiting grounds for Microsoft. Bill Gates paid some nice lip service to this during his recent visit to speak at their campus. From what I can tell, speaking was about all he did, however.

Well, Google sure has gone one better, and it didn't even come from a Google executive!!! This story really says a lot about how things are changing in the hunt for the best and brightest. I read about this in the weekend National Post, but don't have an online subscription, and didn't expect to have access to the story for posting. However, the author, Mark Evans cited the story on his blog, and was nice enough to provide a link there. Thanks Mark!

As the story goes, David Cheriton has donated $25 million in Google stock to his alma mater as an endowment to fund things like research chairs and grad scholarships. In return, the computer science faculty will now bear his name. Turns out this is the largest private funding the school has ever received outside of the $50 million put in by the founder of RIM, Mike Lazaridis.

Incredibly, David doesn't even work for Google - but he is Canadian. He made an early fortune with Cisco, and then a much larger one via an early investment in Google. This was his way of giving back to his alma mater, and I think it speaks volumes about which currency is carrying weight. I'm sure there are loads of Waterloo grads who have done very well working for Microsoft - have they been giving back like this? What about Bill Gates himself? - he was just here, and left nothing behind. Either he missed a great opportunity to really endear himself to Waterloo, or maybe he thinks his best recruits are coming from elsewhere now, and that's where he'll put his money. I think it's the former, and that David Cheriton comes out looking great. Advantage, Google.