Rob Glaser


SOURCE OF WEALTH: Founder of RealNetworks

FUNDING AREAS: Independent Media, Health, Measuring Progress, Animal Rights, Global Education

OVERVIEW: Rob Glaser established the Glaser Progress Foundation in 1999, with a mission "to build a more just, sustainable and humane world." He is best known for his support of independent progressive media, but his foundation's initiatives have also included measuring progress, combating HIV/AIDS, global education and animal rights.

BACKGROUND: Rob Glaser graduated from Yale University. Glaser founded his first company, Ivy Research, in 1981 to make games for the newly launched IBM PC. He later worked at Microsoft. He went on to found RealNetworks. Glaser has been a partner at global venture firm, Accel Partners, focusing on digital media technology, social media, and mobile service investments. 


PROGRESSIVE MEDIA AND CAUSES: Glaser has been a major supporter of Democracy Now!, a leading progressive news program. He has also supported the Global Press Institute in San Francisco and the Institute for Media Analysis in New York City. In addition, the foundation has supported Media Matters for America. Working alongside the Center for American Progress, the Glaser Progress Foundation created a Progressive Studies Program that aims to increase public awareness through education about progressive ideas and values. He has regularly made substantial contributions to the American Civil Liberties Union. The foundation's grantmaking has also supported Foundation for National Progress, the nonprofit organization created to publish Mother Jones, and Global Press Institute. 

HEALTH: Along with Columbia University and Jeffrey Sachs, Glaser and his foundation created and provided most of the funding for the Global Fund Access Project, a multibillion-dollar international financing mechanism to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in developing countries.  Along similar lines, the Glaser Progress Foundation has also worked with the Yale School of Public Health to form the Global Health Leadership Institute, which hopes to improve the health of regional populations by researching best practices and top leaders. Smaller grants have supported the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America.

ANIMAL RIGHTS: The Glaser Progress Foundation has been deeply involved with animal advocacy, although its grantmaking in this area has been put old hold for the past couple of years while it reexamines its program and decides where it wants to focus its resources. In the past, it has given grants to animal rights groups that focus on factory farming, vegetarianism, and saving the great apes, as well as animal shelters and rescues.

MEASURING PROGRESS: The Glaser Progress Foundation has also put resources toward how we measure progress as a society, attempting to combat the notion that progress is measured solely by economic output, and striving to create a system that account for non-market activity. To this end, the foundation has worked with the University of Washington Daniel J. Evans School of Public Affairs to examine the concept of progress and its relationship to public decision making, and with Yale economist William Nordhaus on the Program on Non-market Accounts (PNA), a ten-year program which seeks to build a comprehensive system to measure progress that fully accounts for non-market activity, and includes measurements of things such as pollution and forestry. Past support in this area includes a two-year $100,000 grant to the Sightline Institute to support the development of a regional sustainability index for the Pacific Northwest.

GLOBAL EDUCATION: Glaser's foundation has also backed global educational initiatives. In 2015, about 20 percent of the funds distributed through the Glaser Progress Foundation supported the Kirkland, Washington-based Mona Foundation, which "supports grassroots educational initiatives that provide education to all children, increase opportunities for women and girls, and emphasize service to the community." The foundation's grantmaking has also supported Generation Rwanda, an organization that gives secondary-school graduates training "to succeed in a global information economy."

OTHER: The foundation's grantmaking also supports places like the B612 Foundation, which, according to its website, is "dedicated to the discovery and deflection of asteroids" and  Women Make Movies, a New York City outfit which, according to their website, is "a multicultural, multiracial, non-profit media arts organization which facilitates the production, promotion, distribution and exhibition of independent films and videotapes by and about women."


Martin Collier, Executive Director, Glaser Progress Foundation,


Glaser Progress Foundation