Paul and April Buchheit

NET WORTH: $600 million, estimated

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Google, Facebook, Y-Combinator


OVERVIEW: Paul Buccheit keeps his philanthropic grantmaking very close to the vest, with a scant record of public philanthropy. He has said that he is unsure as to how he can make the most impact, though he is "most sympathetic to health, freedom, and education," and "prefer[s] to support things that have tangible, objective outcomes."

BACKGROUND: As one of Google's original executives (known as Employee 23), Paul Buchheit worked on Google Groups, then created their Gmail client, as well as the original prototype for Google's AdSense program. He is also famous for coming up with Google's original informal motto, "Don't be evil," during an executive meeting. After he left Google, he co-founded FriendFeed, which he sold to Facebook for the tidy sum of $50 million in cash and stock. As one of the conditions of the sale, all FriendFeed employees were offered jobs at Facebook. As for the four founders of FriendFeed, including Buchheit, they were offered senior positions within Facebook's engineering and product divisions. In 2010, he left Facebook to co-found Y-Combinator, a high profile investment firm specializing in tech startups. 

CROWDSOURCING: In 2009, Buchheit set up a Google Moderator page and a FriendFeed page, in order to let anyone make a suggestion as to what causes should benefit best from his financial support. As long as the money went to an official 501(c)3 non-profit, Buchheit was open to any proposal:

In terms of which causes I'd like to support, I'd consider anything, but am probably most sympathetic to health, freedom, and education. In terms of solutions, I'm very skeptical of centralization, one-size-fits-all solutions, and people who are certain of the answer. I also prefer to support things that have tangible, objective outcomes (where you could say, 'this money was used to purchase X' or 'this money was used to fund study Y, which will be published this fall.').

The status and results of this "crowdsourced philanthropy" are unclear. This new phenomenon has had mixed reviews and only comprises about 1 percent of United States philanthropic dollars but keeps growing as more companies such as Pepsi, Best Buy and American Express join the game.

HEALTH: One area of interest for Buchheit has been health, perhaps due to the premature birth of his daughter who experienced significant health issues early in life and the death of his 33-year-old brother from pancreatic cancer. In response, Buchheit's wife April set up a fund to support the Intensive Care Nursery at UCSF Children's Hospital, where their daughter was treated. Buchheit also donated to CareMessage, a start up that "enables health care organizations to facilitate text and voice messaging-based outreach to promote greater patient engagement and improved self-care." 

LOOKING FORWARD: Buchheit's fortune, estimated at around $600 million, has barely been tapped and he does not appear to have a philanthropic organization yet.