Corporate America does not have the best reputation these days, with major political candidates calling on big business to share a larger portion of their wealth with employees and taxpayers. However, these five businessmen have made a positive impact on the world through their philanthropic efforts.
1. Warren Buffet
Chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet, is one of the most famous and successful investors in the world. In 2008, Forbes ranked Buffet as the “richest person in the world,” with a net worth of approximately $62 billion. He dropped to second place in 2009, with a net worth of $37 billion, after donating billions of dollars to charities. In 2007 he was named one of “Times Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World.” President Obama awarded him the Presidental Medal of Freedom in 2011.
In June of 2006, he announced a plan to donate 83% of his fortune to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and he later made a stock donation valued at $30.7 billion, making it the largest single charitable donation in history. In 2010, along with several other well-known billionaires, he signed a pledge, called the “Gates-Buffet Giving Pledge,” vowing to donate at least half of his estate to charitable causes.
2. Pierre Omidyar
Pierre Omidyar founded online auction giant eBay and served as the company’s chairman from 1998 to 2015. EBay’s initial public offering in 1998 made him a billionaire at the age of 31. In 2019 he was worth $13.1 billion. He and his wife Pamela founded the Omidyar Network in 2004. The Omidyar Network has donated more than $992 million to organizations that promote economic advancement and opportunity in the areas of property rights, governance, citizen engagement, education, and financial inclusion. In 2018, Omidyar created a second foundation, called Luminate.
3. Mark Zukerberg
Mark Zukerberg became a household name by creating the social media platform “Facebook.” At the age of 23, he became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire, and in 2019 his estimated net worth was $82 billion. In 2016, Zuckerberg was named “Forbes 10th Most Powerful Person in the World.”
In 2010, Zukerberg founded the “Start-Up Education Foundation,” which donated $100 million to Newark Public Schools. He signed the “Giving Pledge,” along with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, in 2010, promising to give away at least half of his wealth over time. In 2012, he and his wife announced that they planned to devote the majority of their wealth to promoting human potential and equality.
Zuckerberg’s $990 million donation to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation was the largest charitable donation of 2013. He and his wife donated $25 million to combat the Ebola virus in 2016 and have pledged to donate millions of surgical masks and ventilators to hospitals in the United States to combat the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak.
4. Bill Gates
Bill Gates rose to fame in the ’80s as the founder of Microsoft Corporation. Forbes ranked him as the richest person in the world in all but four of the years between 1995-2017, when he was surpassed by Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos. In 2019, Gates was worth an estimated $107.1 billion, making him the second wealthiest person in the world.
He created the William H Gates Foundation in 1994, which was combined with two other foundations in 2000, to form the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which with a value of $34.6 billion, was the “World’s Wealthiest Charitable Foundation” in 2013. Through his foundation, Gates donated $20 million to Carnegie Mellon University to build the “Gates Center for Computer Science,” in 2009.
In 2017, Gates gave $50 million to the Dementia Discovery Fund, seeking treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease and an additional $50 million to start-ups researching the disease. In 2020, he has partnered with Amazon to deliver test kits to areas hard hit by COVID-19 and has pledged $100 million to combat the virus.
Gates has won many awards, including being named one of “Time Magazine’s 100 People Who Most Influenced the 20th Century.” Barack Obama awarded Bill and Melinda Gates the Presidental Medal of Freedom in 2016.
5. Mark Stevens
Mark Stevens is a venture capitalist, partner at S-Cubed Capital, serves on the board of Nvidia and is an investor in the NBA team, the Golden State Warriors. In 2009, he and his wife Mary donated $22 million to the University of Southern California to help fund the USC Stevens Institute for Technology Commercialization. In 2015, they donated another $50 million to USC for the Mark and Mary Stevens Neuroimaging and Informatics Institute, which received FDA clearance for the first seven-Tesla MRI scanner in North America.
These five entrepreneurs have made a big impact on the world with their dedication to philanthropic giving. With the world facing an unprecedented challenge in 2020, their continued philanthropy will be more important than ever.