Andy Grove's Philanthropy Is Personal, and Urgent

Back in March, we counted down 12 of the Most Generous Tech Philanthropists. At the time, we readily admitted there were probably some folks we overlooked simply because so many have made fortunes in the tech industry, and not all of them are as high profile as Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

One of those who should have made the list, but didn’t is the former president, CEO, and chairman of Intel, Andrew Grove—whose philanthropy is marked not just by his level of generosity, but his urgency to solve problems he takes personally. Grove, who was legendary for his hard drive at Intel, has also pushed aggressively with his philanthropy. 

Born in 1936 to a Jewish family in Hungary, at the age of 8, Grove and his mother were forced to take on false identities and hide with friends in order to escape Nazi persecution.

Fleeing to the U.S. during the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Grove earned degrees from the City University of New York and Cal Berkeley before going to work at Fairchild Semiconductor. Within four years he had become the assistant director of development. When invited by Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore to leave Fairchild and help start Intel, Grove jumped at the chance. Though he joined the company the day of Intel’s incorporation, he was not considered a cofounder, which may explain why Moore has a net worth of nearly $7 billion, while the last known record of Grove’s net worth put him around $400 million in 2008. And not only can he be described as the “other guy” from Intel, he could also be considered the “other” American-Hungarian philanthropist, along with George Soros.

While Grove may not have the resources to give away billions like Moore or Soros, when it comes to relative generosity, the three are nearly on par. Through his foundation, Grove has given away more than $115 million over the last 20 years, and has recently been averaging between $9 million and $14 million a year in grants. And his foundation held $100 million in assets, as of its last tax filing. 

Most of this money has gone toward causes to which Grove has a deep personal connection. In 1995, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, so some funding has gone that direction. It was his 2000 diagnosis with Parkinson's Disease, however, that really motivated his giving. Though he was frustrated with the pace of research for cancer, it was nothing compared to his frustration with what was being done for Parkinson's Disease—neurodegenerative diseases received much less funding, and little advancement had been made over the past several decades.

This prompted Grove to put at least $26 million towards the cause, quite possibly doing more for the disease than anyone short of Michael J. Fox. His funding may have implications beyond Parkinson's, and has helped bring about advancements in embryonic stem cell research and research on more effective methods to deliver drugs to the brain, as well as at-home tests to measure the progression of the Parkinson's.

Research institutes generally see most of the funding, and at least $5 million of has gone to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, where Grove is an advisor, and where he has bequeathed another $40 million upon his death, bringing the total amount he has dedicated to charity so far to over $250 million.

Other major causes Grove supports include reproductive rights, where he has given to organizations both locally and nationally, making significant contributions to Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Advocates for Youth, and numerous others.

Grove has also been a long-time supporter of immigrant and refugee issues, giving over $3 million to the International Rescue Committee and $1 million to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center in San Francisco. More recently, he’s also made the news as a funder of immigration reform advocacy groups such as the New Americans Campaign, and CitizenshipWorks.

Though Parkinson's might be starting to slow Grove down, it’s certainly not slowing down his giving. As immigration continues to be at the forefront of our national debate, we will likely see Grove continue to increase his giving in this area.

See full IP's full profile of Grove