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. Cyberspace is the new Gold Coast, and building a website or creating the next hot app are just two of the ways you can strike it rich.

Looking to join the upper echelons? Creating a killer website is a good start. 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 a site like 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.

How Tech Billionaires Spend Their Cash Piles

How Tech Billionaires Spend Their Cash Piles

According to Forbes, in 2012 there were more than 1,200 billionaries all over the world. Ever wonder how these billionaires spend their piles and piles of cash? Here are seven of the biggest tech earners and how they spend their money, for fun and for good.


Larry Ellison

  • Who he is
    • Founder and CEO of Oracle
  • Net Worth
    • $37.8 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • He is part of The Giving Pledge
    • The Ellison Medical Foundation supports biomedical research that will help us understand the lifespan development process and age-related diseases and disabilites.
      • Since the foundation was started in 1998, Ellison has given more than $300 million to the foundation.
  • Splurge
    • He purchased 98% of the Hawaiian island Lanai for a reported $500 million.
      • There are two resorts and a housing development on the 141-square mile island.
    • He could have bought everyone in the UK two Starbucks grande lattes and still have $17 million to spend.

Jeff Bezos

  • Who he is
    • Founder, CEO, and President of Amazon
  • Net Worth
    • $28.1 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • He and his wife donated $2.5 million for a Washington referendum that supported same-sex marriage.
    • He donated $15 million for brain research to his alma mater Princeton University.
    • He also donated $10 million to the Musuem of History & Industry that helped establish a Center for Innovation in 2011.
    • The Bezos Family Foundation, financed primarily through Jeff, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to education reform.
      • They sponsored the Education Nation through NBC Universal for $500,000.
      • They gave more than $100,000 worth of Amazon stock to the League of Education Voters Foundation in hopes of passing the education reform in Washington state.
  • Splurge
    • He purchased The Washington Post for $250 million.
      • He could buy a Kindle for the entire country of Kuwait, then still have more than $2.8 million to spend.
    • He spent $42 million of a 10,000 year clock that will be on his property in Texas.
      • The clock will run for 10,000 years and is meant to get people thinking about the long-term goals of civilization.

Sergey Brin

  • Who he is
    • Director and Cofounder of Google
  • Net Worth
    • $24.6 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • In 2011 Brin, and his now ex-wife, donated $500,000 to The Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that helps fund Wikipedia operations.
    • In 2009 he made a $1 million donation to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
      • The organization helped him and his family escape anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and migrate to the U.S. more than 30 years ago.
    • Brin has donated more than $130 million to help find a cure for Parkinson’s disease, primarily through the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
  • Splurge
    • Invested $330,000 to create the first synthetic beef patty for animal welfare reasons.
      • The money was used to grow 20,000 muscle fibres from cow stem cells over a three-month period.
      • Their goal is to create beef that is biologically identical to beef from a cow, but grown in a lab.
    • He could have taken all the Google employees to the early-bird viewing of the movie The Internship, which he makes a cameo appearance in.

Mark Zuckerberg

  • Who he is
    • Cofounder and CEO of Facebook
  • Net Worth
    • $23 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Mark and his wife were the second most charitable people in 2012 (behind Warren Buffett.)
    • He has pledged half of his wealth to philanthrophy through The Giving Pledge.
    • They donated $498.8 million worth of Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
    • In 2010 he pledged $100 million to schools in Newark, New Jersey through his foundation, Startup: Education.
    • “People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?”
      • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Splurge
    • He spent $30 million on four of his neighbhor’s homes to ensure his privacy.
      • He could buy 10 extra lives for more than $8.5 million Candy Crush addicts.

Paul Allen

  • Who he is
    • Cofounder of Microsoft
  • Net Worth
    • $15.3 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • Allen has joined the Giving Pledge.
    • Allen’s foundation, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, has given more than $400 million through over 3,000 grants in the past 22 years.
    • Allen has donated $600 million to nonprofit organizations he has founded, like the Experience Music Project.
      • He donated $300 million to the Allen Institute for Brain and Science in 2012.
  • Splurge
    • In 2003 he bought the 12th largest yacht for $200 million, it costs him $20 million per year to run.
      • He could buy the entire population of Thailand a McDonald’s Happy Meal and still have about $300,000 left.

Elon Musk

  • Who he is
    • Founder of Zip2, Cofounder of PayPal, SpaceX, and Tesla Motors and CEO of SpaceX, SolarCity, and Tesla.
    • He is one of only two people to have founded three billion-dollar companies.
  • Net Worth
    • $8.4 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • Musk has pledged the majority of his wealth to philanthrophy through the Giving Pledge.
    • Musk donated $50,000 to Angelenos Against Gridlock, an advocacy group dedicated to improving traffic conditions on the crazy Los Angeles highways.
    • Elon started the Musk Foundation to help fund research in renewable energy, human space exploration, pediatric health, and science and engineering education.
      • Through this he pledged to donate around $10 million to build solar power systems in areas affected by natural disasters.
      • One of the areas that benefitted from this was Soma City, an area of Fukushima that was affected by the tsunami in Japan. They received $250,000 from the foundation.
      • “You want to have a future where you’re expecting things to be better, not one where you’re expecting things to be worse.”
  • Splurge
    • He purchased an estate in Bel Air for $17 million.

Eric Schmidt

  • Who he is
    • Chairman of Google
  • Net Worth
    • $8.4 Billion
  • Spending to Help Others
    • Eric and his wife Wendy donated $15 million towards the building of a new park on Governor’s Island.
    • He donated $32,300 to the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, then six weeks later donated another $32,300 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
    • He and his wife also donated $500,000 to the National Ocean Sciences Bowl to help fund their 2013-2014 operations.
  • Splurge
    • He dropped $15 million on a 6,250-square-foot penthouse in New York.
      • The married man purchased this private and soundproof penthouse to be closer to the two New York women he is seeing.
    • He could buy a pair of Toms for 312,500 people, and in turn provide shoes for another 312,500 people in need.

Sources

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