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5 Silicon Valley philanthropists you probably didn’t know about

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are not the only prominent philanthropists in Silicon Valley.



Silicon Valley is home to many prominent figures known for their innovations in business. Many of these figures are also respected philanthropists who support various causes close to their heart, sometimes in creative ways that reflect their ingenuity.

Several Silicon Valley philanthropists you probably didn’t know about, beyond the obvious ones like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, include:

Ed Scott

The founder of BEA Systems, Ed Scott has been making notable donations since 2001. He has helped in the fights against disease and global poverty and actively works toward finding treatments for autism. Scott invested $25 million to help start the Center on Global Development, which works to reduce worldwide poverty.

Poverty initiatives are very near and dear for Scott, who also helped start the Center for Interfaith Action on Global Poverty and DATA. Although Scott’s net worth has declined in recent years, it’s largely because of the generous contributions he has made to address worldwide issues and policy changes that help fight and treat disease and poverty.

Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner

Bosack and Lerner, the co-founders of Cisco, are among Silicon Valley’s most generous. After receiving $170 million in compensation after departing Cisco in 1990, they ended up giving over 70 percent of that to charity causes. Animal welfare is a particular area of interest.

They helped fund The Center for Conservation Biology at the University of Washington and purchased Chawton House, a research center on women writers of the 18th and 19th centuries that touts a collection of over 9,000 books in the genre of women’s writing, including original manuscripts. Bosack and Lerner turned their fortune into giving, setting a model for successors in Silicon Valley.

Gordon Moore

Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel, has made substantial philanthropic efforts alongside his wife, Betty. Their Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation has contributed around $3 billion in grants to a variety of causes, notably in scientific research, environmental conservation and Bay Area charities. Moore’s net worth exceeds $8 billion, with the Moores continuing to donate to various causes. Their pledge of $50 million to the UCSF Medical Center is also notable.

Gordon Moore is the founder of Intel and of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation which has contributed to a variety of causes like scientific research. (Photo by OnInnovation via Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0)

Other contributions of Moore include $200 million to the University of California and Caltech in 2007, aiding in the construction of the world’s second-largest optical telescope. The Moores also have an interest in donating to nursing initiatives and created the Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative to help with nursing care in the Bay Area and Greater Sacramento.

Tim Gill

Tim Gill was a beneficiary of the dotcom boom, selling his stake in Quark for around $500 million. Much of that went into the Gill Foundation, which spends hundreds of millions to promote LGBT equality. The Gill Foundation was ahead of its time in loudly promoting LGBT rights. Gill continues to play a large role in recognizing LGBT rights through his foundation and donating to political efforts that promote equality.

Gill is especially impressive for donating to philanthropic causes very shortly after selling his Quark stake, wasting no time in making the world a better place.

Irwin Jacobs

Irwin Jacobs, the co-founder of telecommunications equipment giant Qualcomm, along with his wife, has donated about $500 million to charitable causes. Much of their charity has been beneficial for the health, education and technology niches, with a special focus on the Jewish community and the San Diego area. They are also proud members of the “Giving Pledge,” comprised of billionaires who promise to donate at least 50 percent of their wealth to philanthropic causes.

These Silicon Valley titans have done impressive work with their various business ideas and efforts, though it’s likely many of them will receive an honor for their charitable contributions as well.

(Featured image by OnInnovation via Flickr. CC BY-ND 2.0)

DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Kayla Matthews is a technology blogger who regularly contributes to, MakeUseOf and The Gadget Flow. Follow Kayla on Twitter or check out her technology blog, Productivity Bytes.