How Tech Billionaires Spend Their Cash Piles
In the golden age of the Industrial Revolution, millionaires like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie rose to prominence as latter-day royalty. In today’s tech-driven society, their heirs apparent are the new billionaires who’ve founded some of the most important high-tech companies in the world—and made a fortune doing so.
Becoming a millionaire isn’t exactly easy, but it’s certainly become far more common than it was during Rockefeller’s day. To really stand out, pretenders to the throne need at least a billion. And while the world had more than 1,200 billionaires in 2012, those in the upper echelons of their ranks—including such notable figures as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Paul Allen, and Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos—have spending power far beyond the dreams of most millionaires, let alone the average citizen. When you have billions of dollars, dropping $250 million for The Washington Post is practically chickenfeed.
But the privileges of wealth have always brought with them certain expectations of generosity, and today’s tech billionaires are no exception. When they’re not buying islands or building enormous private penthouses, the world’s richest Internet moguls are using their powers for good. For example, in the summer of 2013, Google’s Eric Schmidt (along with his wife Wendy) donated $15 million to help build the new park on New York City’s Governor’s Island. Schmidt’s coworker, Google founder Sergey Brin, has given more than $130 million to fight Parkinson’s disease. And while Paul Allen may have expensive tastes in marine transportation, the $600 million he’s invested in the various nonprofits he’s founded indicates he’s just as interested in giving as getting.
Whether from software, social media, or search engines, the billionaires of the tech world have accrued fortunes far greater than they could hope to spend in a lifetime. But whether it’s on luxury splurges or exceptional acts of altruism, chances are the rest of us will always be ready to watch them try.
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