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Topline

Billionaire Silicon Valley investor John Doerr is donating $1.1 billion to Stanford University, a record gift for the university that will be used to establish a sustainability school and further Doerr’s commitment to combating climate change, Stanford said Wednesday.

Key Facts

Together with an additional $590 million from other donors including billionaire Yahoo! cofounders Jerry Yang and David Filo, the gift from Doerr – the chairman of powerhouse venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins – and his wife, Ann, will enable the university to open the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability this fall, the university said.

The donation surpasses the prior Stanford record of two $400 million gifts from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and the Hewlett Foundation, and is the second-largest ever to a university, behind only the $1.8 billion gift from former New York City mayor Mike Bloomberg to Johns Hopkins University in 2018, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education’s tracker.

Big Number

$11.1 billion. That’s how much Doerr is worth according to Forbescalculations, making him the 175th wealthiest person in the world, courtesy of making early investments at Kleiner Perkins in Google, Amazon, Slack and other Silicon Valley successes.

Key Background

Doerr’s foundation works with the Al Gore-founded Climate Reality Project organization studying climate change, and Doerr published a book last year outlining his thoughts on how to solve the climate crisis. Doerr told Forbes last year he believes the earth “is on the brink of disaster” due to global warming and said figuring out how to stop climate change represents the “greatest economic opportunity of our lifetimes.”

Chief Critic

“I don’t see how giving a billion dollars to a rich university is going to move the needle on this issue in a near-term time frame,” philanthropy analyst David Callahan told the New York Times, which first reported on Doerr’s donation. Callahan said the gift was a “nice” gesture, but suggested Doerr’s money would be better spent on efforts to make the public more concerned about climate change.

Further Reading

Stanford Gets $1.1 Billion for New Climate School From John Doerr (New York Times)

Climate Action At Speed & Scale For Net Zero By 2050: Q+A With Venture Capitalist John Doerr (Forbes)

Source: Forbes

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