NET WORTH: Unknown
SOURCE of WEALTH: Right Media, Yahoo!
FUNDING AREAS: Environment, Education, Humanitarian Causes, Arts and Culture
OVERVIEW: Walrath has yet to give away truly big money to charitable causes, but he and his wife Michelle take their philanthropy seriously. They've put around $5 million into Walrath Family Foundation since establishing it in 2008, and have given out around a quarter million in grants each year to a dozen organizations, most of which revolving around the issues of education, the environment and humanitarian causes.
BACKGROUND: Walrath’s rise in the tech industry has been somewhat different than most in his field. Growing up in Connecticut, and studying English at the University of Richmond, he started his career as an athletic shoe promoter, and then a personal trainer, before taking a job with DoubleClick selling online advertising. Despite his lack of tech skills, he became DoubleClick’s Director of Direct Marketing, and eventually left to found Right Media, a digital advertising exchange marketplace. Four years later, he hit paydirt, selling Right Media to Yahoo! for $850 million, becoming Yahoo!’s Senior VP of Advertising Strategy. Walrath didn’t stay at Yahoo! long, however, leaving just two years later to co-found an early stage investment firm that focuses largely on tech companies.
When it comes to philanthropy, Michelle Walrath seems to be the more hands-on partner in directing the couple's giving as executive director of the Walrath Family Foundation. Michelle is an environmentalist and very much into wellness and well-being. In addition to a Master's in elementary education, she has a degree in teaching yoga.
EDUCATION: The Walraths have donated an average of $15,000 per year to every school they’ve ever been associated with. The real story, however, is the page that they’ve taken out of Jeff Skoll’s book: in 2008 they helped cofound Atlas Films. Though for-profit, the organization’s mission is to educate about social issues and inspire change through the creation of feature-length documentaries. Their first film, Tapped, looked at the bottled water industry’s effects on health, pollution, and climate change, and their second, Fed Up, tackled childhood obesity.
ENVIRONMENT: In addition to making Tapped, the Walraths have lent their support to organizations like Grassroots Environmental Education, Food & Water Watch, and the Peconic Land Trust.
HUMANITARIAN CAUSES: The Walraths support a number of organizations leading the fight against genocide, including Genocide Intervention, United to End Genocide, and Save Darfur. They also donated to Smile Train, which sends oral surgeons to developing countries to help children with cleft palates.
ARTS & CULTURE: The Montauk Playhouse has received a number of gifts from the Walraths, but their giving in this area appears to be fairly limited.
LOOKING FORWARD: If Michael Walrath treats his philanthropy anything like he treats his investments, he’ll be looking for organizations that take risks that could potentially yield big rewards. The Walraths have already demonstrated the ability to think big, taking on a number of different global issues, yet also support a number of smaller organizations that are close to home. They also appear to prefer spreading the wealth around, rather than making large donations to a few organizations.