Not always about the benjamins

Who do you think sleeps better at night, Bill Gates or Linus Torvalds? We’ll never know for sure unless they ever shack up together like a 21st century Odd Couple, but BusinessWeek argues that sometimes passion and pride outperforms money, like how thousands of developers have contributed their blood and tears to the Linux operating system for no apparent reason.

It’s not like Linus is a pauper. The Linux kernel became his resume, and he was quickly hired by hot startup Transmeta when he graduated from the University of Helsinki. The RedHat IPO left him a millionaire; he drives a Mercedes SLK. Like Gates, he’s married with three kids and lives in the Northwest USA. He’s known for his humility (he was once spotted waiting in line with everybody else for his ID badge at a Linux conference, even though he was the keynote speaker) and straight-faced wit (such as when he stepped in to describe the ideal Linux mascot – a plump penguin).

Despite the fact Bill Gates has personally contributed $5 billion to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest charity in the world, people are merely jealous of Gates. Linus, on the other hand, is adored.

Who do you think sleeps better at night, Dennis Hayes or Dale Heatherington? Together, they founded Hayes Microcomputer, the inventors of the computer modem. If you ever had to type in an AT command, it’s because your modem’s manufacturer licensed Hayes’s technology. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution attests, “Hayes was always the one who got the glory. Heatherington was the one who got the money.”

Hayes wanted to remain in control, and remained there when the company finally fell in 1998. Hayes is currently a part-time consultant living in a rented Manhattan bachelor apartment. He is twice-divorced, hounded by alimony payments.

Heatherington, the silent partner, retired in 1984, shortly after the company hit the big time, amassing a payout approaching $20 million. He now lives in a 7,000 square foot home with his wife, dedicating his time tinkering in his workshop. As Heatherington says, “How much money do you need? You go through life once. You’ve got a certain number of years to live.”

“If you put the energy in to build a profitable company, why not be good to yourself and enjoy it?” says Kelli Greene, an entrepreneur interviewed by She’s managed to handle one of the largest growing private companies in America with a 25 hour work week.

In the D drive: Thief: Deadly Shadows True to its past, but why do I have to fiddle with the default.ini just to make it bearable to play?