Sean Parker

NET WORTH: $2.4 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Facebook

FUNDING AREAS: Medical research, nonprofit development

OVERVIEW: Parker has emerged lately as a philanthropist focused on medical giving, and particularly immunology. But he has diverse interests, and was a cofounder of Causes. In June 2015, Parker announced a $600 million contribution to launch the Parker Foundation, which focuses on three areas: Life Sciences, Global Public Health and Civic Engagement.

BACKGROUND: Sean Parker definitely loves the Internet, and he definitely loves to shake things up. After making a splash with Napster, with which he became a mortal enemy of the music industry, he made his big money by helping give birth to Facebook, the shares of which have now climbed well above the original IPO price. 

PHILOSOPHY: Parker supports the idea that excess wealth should be given away early and over the course of a lifetime, as opposed to later in life. Parker published a philanthropy manifesto touching on this and other suggestions for his fellow tech colleagues, found here, and that Inside Philanthropy examined here.

ISSUES:

HEALTH: Parker's biggest donation, of $24 million, has gone to support a new research center focused on allergy at Stanford University. Parker himself suffers from severe nut allergies. He's also given notable gifts to support immunology research related to cancer. He's been a strong supporter of Charity: Water, which brings water resources to communities in developing countries, and Malaria No More, a group that focuses on malaria treatment and prevention in Africa. In a recent year, he made a $4.5 million grant to support the Malaria Elimination Initiative at the University of California San Francisco’s Global Health Group, and a $10 million grant to create the Sean N. Parker Autoimmune Research Laboratory at UCSF. Parker has been an active donor to cancer research and he funded the first proposed test of CRISPR gene-editing technology in human beings.

DRUG POLICY REFORM: Parker joined another Facebook cofounder, Dustin Moskovitz, in supporting legalizing marijuana in California. For his part, Parker donated $100,000 to the cause, and as of early 2016, contributed another $500,000 to Californians to Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana While Protecting Children, Sponsored by Business, Physicians, Environmental and Social Justice Advocate Organizations.  

NONPROFIT DEVELOPMENT: Parker's ultimate philanthropic legacy may come from his development of the social media app Causes, which he founded in 2007 with political activist Joe Green. Causes started as the first Facebook app but has expanded to other platforms, helping connect non-profits with potential donors, helping people promote their favorite charities, and encourage giving online. Before Causes came along, only 5.7 percent of the $300 billion a year donated to charities by Americans came from online giving, even though e-commerce was exploding. The organization uses a number of methods to match donors and charities. 

CONTACT:

  • Sean Parker, Executive General Partner, Founders Fund, One Letterman Drive, Bldg C, Suite 420, Presidio of San Francisco, CA 94129

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