We always wondered what, exactly, Wendy Schmidt saw in her husband Eric, the billionaire CEO of Google who sometimes prefers the company of other women. A review of the couple's charitable ventures makes things clearer. The Schmidt Family Foundation, which reported $84 million in assets in December 2006, has handed out some grants since its formation two years ago. But its biggest charitable project seems to be Wendy Schmidt herself.The foundation's two main programs are the 11th Hour Project, an organization which publishes links to information it deems "scientific" about global warming, and Greenhound LLC, a bus operator on Nantucket Island. Schmidt is the founder of the 11th Hour Project, and a longtime summer resident of Nantucket, where she is also an investor in downtown real estate. Both superficially good causes. But if Eric wanted to give Wendy, who has a master's in journalism from Berkeley, a job writing environmental press releases, why didn't he just hire her at Google, as he did with ex-girlfriend Marcy Simon? And if the Schmidts want to boost the value of their Nantucket real estate with bus service, why don't they just pay for it themselves, rather than with the help of a tax-exempt charitable foundation? Eric Schmidt complains about the lack of investigative journalism today. This seems like a good place to start. Compared to Bill and Melinda Gates, whose charity reaches around the globe, the Schmidts don't just come across as small-hearted. They look downright unimaginative.
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