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Remember Netscape, Bill?

Rich philanthropists have the power to fund risky, long-term projects. So why don’t they?

By Elizabeth Pisani   November 2009

Last year, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked HIV specialists what the charity should do to fight the virus in the developing world. More investment in vaccines, said some; more work on bug-killing microbicides, said others. More clean needles for drug injectors, said I. There was only one creative suggestion: “Treat HIV as if it were Netscape. Crush it like a bug.” Remember Netscape? The successful internet browser was manipulated out of existence as Microsoft skewed market incentives and bundled Internet Explorer with Windows. Could we do the same with HIV?

Maybe. When Thailand started closing brothels that didn’t…

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