NET WORTH: N/A
SOURCE of WEALTH: Flatiron Partners, Union Square Investments
FUNDING AREAS: NYC Community, Education
OVERVIEW: Wilson is a proponent of education, particularly when it comes to giving kids access to computers and teaching them basic programming skills. He’s also active in redeveloping areas of NYC, and an outspoken proponent of net neutrality.
BACKGROUND: Wilson is a tech venture capitalist who has provided funding for internet companies such as Twitter, Zynga, Etsy, Disqus, Feedburner, Kickstarter, and many others. He is also a prominent tech blogger, running a site called AVC.com, where he dispenses tips and observations. Before becoming a tech financier and blogger, Wilson studied mechanical engineering at MIT and received an MBA from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. While no one seems to know exactly how much he’s worth, and he has yet to crack the Forbes 400, he was 16th on Forbes’ 2013 Midas List.
PHILOSOPHY: Wilson is a strong advocate of philanthrocapitalism, having led panels on the public service potential of private capital. He’s also written several blogs related to philanthropy, such as one on market and philanthropy, and another asking if crowdfunding could be more patient than traditional venture capital, particularly when it comes to funding for charitable causes. Wilson has also let it be known that the money he makes from his blog is donated to charity, (around $25,000-$30,000) but didn’t say where it went, which seems to be typical of his approach to philanthropy: he’ll occasionally advocate for a cause and use his substantial network to do some fundraising, but the details of his own personal contributions usually remain private.
NYC COMMUNITY: Wilson is a community activist, and has been involved with redevelopment efforts for Union Square--through the Union Square Ventures he founded with Brad Burnham in 2004--Madison Square, and Pier 40. Through the Pier 40 partnership, he helped secure $10 million in initial funding to build a plan to repair and improve the pier, enhancing and expanding its uses to meet the needs of the Hudson River Park Trust and the city and the wishes of the community.
EDUCATION: For Wilson’s fiftieth birthday, he launched a fundraising campaign to raise money to fund education projects through DonorsChoose.org. He set a goal of $50,000, and ended up raising $54,028. He’s also the Chairman of NYC Foundation for Computer Science Education, and has helped to raise $5 million in seed funding to get the organization off the ground. Through this fund, they have invested in organizations like Code.org and the Academy for Software Engineering. He also donated $10,000 to the P.S/M.S. 282 Chess Team.
NET NEUTRALITY: In 1996, Wilson and Jerry Colona founded Flatiron Partners, focused on investments in notable dot-com bubble successes and failures.
Though there’s no indication that he’s been an active donor or fundraiser for groups that seek to protect net neutrality, internet privacy, or freedom of speech, Wilson is a big supporter of that issue and said that the end of net neutrality could prevent venture capitalists like himself from funding new startups.