Zuckerberg’s donation latest in string of gifts by technology mavens
SAN FRANCISCO, Dec 1 (Reuters) – Mark Zuckerberg’s pledge on Tuesday to give away most of his Facebook shares, a roughly $45 billion fortune, helps cement his role as one of Silicon Valley’s most generous donors.
The donation could also help bolster the reputation of the technology community, which has faced criticism for driving up rents and exacerbating income inequality in Silicon Valley while valuations of companies there reach stratospheric levels.
Zuckerberg, 31, and his wife Priscilla Chan, already lauded for donating $1.5 billion in Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF), are setting a high bar that is bringing more money to philanthropic endeavors.
Nicholas and Jill Woodman, the founders of GoPro, the wearable camera company, said last year they would give $500 million to the SVCF. Jan Koum, a co-founder of message service WhatsApp, pledged more than $500 million, also for the SVCF.
Sean Parker, an early Facebook executive and a founder of music-sharing service Napster, has committed $600 million to his foundation, which has goals of improving civic engagement, public health, and life sciences.
Google’s Sergey Brin last year gave $383 million to his family foundation, which supports causes such as eradicating poverty in the San Francisco region.
His co-founder, Larry Page, gave Google stock valued at $177 million last year to a foundation named after his father, Carl Victor Page, that he started in 2006. It focuses on areas such as education and medicine.
The year before, Page had landed on Inside Philanthropy’s list of least generous donors. "The foundation seems to give only to donor-advised funds that can sit on the money indefinitely," the publication wrote at the time.
A representative of the Page Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Another tech titan with a sizable philanthropic streak is investor Yuri Milner, who bankrolls the annual Breakthrough Prizes, which awards $3 million each to scientists. Earlier this year, Milner said he would spend $100 million looking for intelligent life in space by searching for radio and light signals.
But so far, the most famous tech donor is Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who along with his wife Melinda, have given $30.7 billion as of last year to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, known for work in poverty and healthcare.
Gates is a leading advocate of the Giving Pledge, a commitment made by billionaires to dedicate the majority of their wealth to charity.