David Filo

NET WORTH: $2.5 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Cofounder of Yahoo!

FUNDING AREAS: Higher Education, K-12 Education, Environment, Human Rights

OVERVIEW: David Filo and his wife Angela give about $10 million annually through their prized Yellow Chair Foundation. Much of their money has gone towards higher education, public interest journalism, climate change, and education reform.

BACKGROUND: Like his cofounder Jerry Yang, self-described "Chief Yahoo" David Filo has earned every bit of his fortune. Unlike Yang, who resigned from Yahoo in January 2012, Filo is still hard at work at the tech giant, directing the technical operations behind the company's global network. Filo also recently returned to the Yahoo board.

Filo was born in Wisconsin, and his family moved to Louisiana when he was six. He received a computer engineering degree from Tulane University and a master's degree from Stanford. After earning his master's, Filo became a PhD student at Stanford, where he met Jerry Yang. Both Filo and Yang had a strong interest in the World Wide Web but had a difficult time remembering which sites they had visited, so they created what they originally called "Jerry and David's Guide to the World Wide Web." Later, they changed the name of the new search engine to Yahoo.

The site became so popular that Filo and Yang began receiving offers from Netscape and AOL. Once they realized what they had on their hands, the two dropped out of the doctoral program in 1994 to work on the site full time.

ISSUES:

HIGHER EDUCATION: In 1996, not long after cofounding Yahoo, Filo donated $1 million in company stock to Tulane to establish an endowed chair in the engineering department. The gift made him the youngest donor ever to establish an endowed chair at Tulane. A year later, he and Yang became the youngest people ever to endow a chair at Stanford when they made a $2 million grant to the school to create the Yahoo Founder's Professorship at the Engineering School, which focused on information technology. At the time of those endowments, Filo said, "There was really no reason to wait. I realize the money I have, I will never spend."

In 2004, Filo and Netscape founder Jim Clark made matching $30 million endowments to Tulane University, with the $60 million going into an endowment used to fund $3 million in undergraduate merit-based scholarships per year.

Recent donations have also gone to Stanford University's Bing Nursery School, and in 2014, the Filos endowed a faculty chair for the study of poverty and inequality in education. Meanwhile support has also gone to UC Berkeley, with a portion of the money supporting Berkeley's journalism school. Support has also gone to the Journalism Education Association at Kansas State University.

K-12 EDUCATION: The couple has also been supportive of education reform. Money has gone to 826 National, a nonprofit which helps "students, ages 6–18, with expository and creative writing at seven locations across the USA." Recent support has also gone to IMentor, the New Teacher Center, the Quest Scholars Program, College Track, and Eastside College Preperatory School (more than $400,000 in 2013), where Angela used to teach journalism and photography. Large sums have also gone to DonorsChoose.org. The Filos also helped bankroll the K12 Start Fund, which aims to increase early funding for education technology companies.

ENVIRONMENT: In 2007, Filo created the Be a Better Planet campaign. The campaign was a search for the greenest city in America and was intended to leverage Yahoo's massive audience—it was getting nearly half a billion visits a day—to empower Americans to take action against climate change. More recently, the Filos have helped bankroll the Beyond Coal campaign, which seeks to “improve public health, slash carbon emissions and allow the U.S. to take action as leader in fighting climate change." Grantmaking through the Yellow Chair Foundation of late has involved supporting outfits such as the Environmental Defense Fund (at least $600,000 in 2012), Canopy Trees for Palo Alto, and the Energy Foundation, a "partnership of major foundations interested in sustainable energy"

HUMAN RIGHTS: Donations from the Yellow Chair Foundation have supported the ACLU Foundation of Northern California (at least $1.25 million in 2012 and 2013 each). The couple is also interested in women's advocacy, with recent money going to the Global Fund for Women. Support has also gone to the Global Giving Foundation.

LOOKING AHEAD: The Yellow Chair Foundation hasn't really focused in on arts and culture, but given Angela's background as a photographer this is something to keep an eye on. Similar to fellow Bay Area philanthropist Herb Sandler, the couple has recently begun supporting public interest journalism, giving to organizations like ProPublica.

CONTACT:

  • Yahoo! Inc., 701 First Ave., Sunnyvale, CA 94089, 408-349-3300

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