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The people behind the most successful tech companies are some of the wealthiest individuals in the world. Today an increasing number of tech entrepreneurs are using their wealth to make a positive impact on the world. In many cases they’re going about it in an innovative manner. Below are six ways the tech sector is changing philanthropy.

Think Big

Many tech philanthropists aren’t content to help the world on a small scale. They aren’t afraid to invest substantial sums of money in innovative solutions that some consider controversial or too ambitious. For example, Bill Gates uses his considerable wealth to help eradicate diseases throughout the world rather than just “control” them.

Approach Philanthropy Like A Business

Tech businesses focus on innovation and disruption, and tech entrepreneurs bring this same mindset to philanthropy. PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel used his business knowledge to create Breakout Labs. The organization provides grants for scientific research that doesn’t generate interest from traditional investors. Thiel isn’t afraid to take risks in business, and he approaches philanthropy with the same attitude.


Data is important to tech philanthropists. By gathering data they are able to identify which issues are worth investing money in. The Open Philanthropy Project, or Open Phil, is one organization that currently uses data analysis in this manner. Dustin Moskovitz, one of the co-founders of Facebook, has ties to Open Phil. Open Phil is actually a project of Good Ventures, a philanthropic organization that Moskovitz co-founded with his wife Cari Tuna.

Testing Solutions

Tech entrepreneurs are used to repeatedly testing ideas before taking them to market. By testing, failing, and repeating the process over and over again, tech entrepreneurs are able to waste less money. When they take a product to scale, they are confident in it. Tech entrepreneurs are especially quick to test solutions, and they aren’t afraid to abandon ideas that don’t work.


Tech companies like Google and Facebook spare no expense when it comes to recruiting top talent. Tech entrepreneurs bring this same mindset to recruiting talent for their philanthropic organizations. People all over the world want to work with Silicon Valley’s tech stars, so it’s easy for them to assemble high-quality teams. Also, tech entrepreneurs are eager to stay personally involved in the teams they build so that they can help guide them.

Make A Profit

Today’s tech philanthropists aren’t afraid to admit that they want to make a profit from saving the world. Breakout Labs, which was mentioned above, doesn’t just make grants and walk away. If the grants help researchers generate revenue past a certain point, then Breakout Labs gets to claim equity stake. In 2015 Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan founded the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative as a limited liability company rather than a private foundation. This formation allows them to generate a profit and make political donations.