Latest Issue

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…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect