Meet Cari Tuna, the Woman Giving Away Dustin Moskovitz's Facebook Fortune

Here's a name you may hear often as a new golden age of philanthropy unfolds in coming decades: Cari Tuna.

Cari who, you ask? Right, I don't recall ever hearing of a billionaire or big shot entrepreneur named Cari Tuna, either.

That's because Cari Tuna didn't make the multi-billion dollar fortune she'll play a pivotal role in giving away. She's marrying it, as the fiancee of Dustin Moskovitz, the Facebook co-founder who still has a reported 7.6% stake in the company.

As we reported here recently, Moskovitz has decided to give away the vast bulk of his fortune while he is still alive, which means that even though he's still in his 20s, he'll have to build a super-aggressive philanthropy operation that can move tens of millions — or hundreds of millions — of dollars a year out the door (read How Dustin Moskovitz is Turning Big Philanthropy on its Head).

And guess who's in charge of this effort— so far anyway? Cari Tuna. 

In a recent interview, Moskovitz explained that one reason he was charging so hard into philanthropy is because Tuna can take on this job — and "think about this full time" — while Moskovitz works to build his new company, Asana.

Moskovitz said about Tuna that she is "more than qualifed" to lead his multi-billion philanthropic effort and "is brilliant, smarter than me in many ways."

So who exactly is Cari Tuna? And is she, as Moskovitz suggests, more than qualified to establish a major new foundation that may well soon exceeed the Rockefeller Foundation in its annual spending?

Here's what we know: Cari Tuna graduated from Yale University, where she wrote for the Yale Daily News. She went straight from Yale to the Wall Street Journal, where she covered Silicon Valley and the tech industry for nearly three years. There she met Moskovitz. In 2011, she quit journalism to focus full time on philanthropy and is now president of Good Ventures, the foundation through which she and Moskovitz will give away his billions.

Okay, so let's point out the obvious: Tuna has a pretty thin resume for someone now charged with giving away a boatload — no, a supertanker — of money. But, then, let me say something equally obvious: It's people Cari Tuna's age who are revolutionizing how human beings connect with each other through things like, well, Facebook.

If new thinking and new strategies is what the world really needs to solve its problems, than maybe part of the answer is to give huge checkbooks to the likes of Tuna — young leaders who specifically have not come up through the ranks at places like Pew or Ford.

Whatever the case, so far it appears that Tuna is moving conventionally and cautiously at Good Ventures. She's clearly someone who takes her new responsibility seriously and knows how to do her homework (as you might expect from someone who got into Yale.) She's plowed through big picture books on global poverty like Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save. And she's grappling with questions about measuring the impact of philanthropic giving.

As part of Tuna's immersion in philanthropy she came across GiveWell, an organization that evaluates charities and encourages donors to give money to the best ones. Tuna was so "struck by the rigor of GiveWell’s research," and so impressed by its founders, that she joined its board of directors in April 2011.

Two of Good Ventures' first big grants were made to organizations that ranked first and second on GiveWell's list of best charities, Against Malaria Foundation and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. (See IP's profile for the Good Ventures Foundation).

Tuna has so embraced GiveWell's mission that she's made it part of the mission of Good Ventures, which says will seek to "foster a culture in which individual donors demand evidence of impact from the nonprofits they support."

Is a new generation of leaders really going to transform philanthropy by focusing on better metrics — as opposed to, say, the underlying power structures that perpetuate poverty? I doubt it. But given the money at her disposal, its good to see that Cari Tuna is inclined to think rigorously about impact.