Throughout the 1990s, David Risher helped make high-tech history. As an early executive at Microsoft, he managed the company’s database products and led development of the first version of its investment-planning software. He then left for an e-commerce startup called Amazon, much to the displeasure of Bill Gates. Working alongside Jeff Bezos for the next five years, Risher ran Amazon’s booming retail business and watched the company take its first few steps into the world of digital reading.
He left Amazon in 2002, and after a decade of world travel and philanthropy now has a grand vision of bringing free e-books to kids in Africa. His nonprofit, Worldreader, is shipping Amazon’s single-purpose Kindle reader to schools and communities in sub-Saharan Africa with a near-term goal of providing 1 million e-books to children in the largely English-speaking countries of Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya in the next year.