Sailor, Academic, Internet Pioneer—James Clark's Philanthropy Reflects His Journey

The path to tech success was a difficult one for James H. Clark.

A high school drop-out, Clark was the product of a difficult childhood, eventually joining the navy and gaining just enough credits to enroll in college, where he studied electronics, a subject that intrigued him during his time in the service.

Clark's big break in tech was the introduction of Netscape, which he designed with partner Marc Andreessen. A hugely successful product, Netscape was the first major web browser, claiming more than 80 percent of the browser market until 1998. Clark also co-founded popular medical (and self-diagnosis) website WebMD, as well as Silicon Graphics, a popular, high-end special effects and 3D imaging graphics company. While certainly a product of his own tenacity, Clark has also seen a fair bit of luck, too, having invested in wildly successful enterprises including Apple, Facebook and Twitter.

Having earned a masters in Physics, a Ph.D. in computer science, and working as a professor of electrical engineering at StanfordClark has spent much of his fortune giving to a number of universities. This includes contributions to New Orleans University for a physics program, Tulane University for an engineering scholarship, and Stanford University, to which Clark pledged $150 million for the James H. Clark Center for Biomedical Engineering.

It's worth noting that despite Clark's interest in higher education, he's had some issues with both of his former stomping grounds New Orleans University and Tulane Unversity, where bureaucratic issues kept the money Clark donated from being used exactly to his liking. This doesn't seem to diminshed his interest in philanthropy for higher education, however, as he recently donated $10 million to Stanford University for general use.

Clark's passion for sailing and his time in the Navy have resulted in thousands in giving to marine organizations such as Sail Newport, Sail for the Sea, and Oliver Hazard Perry, which gives young kids the opportunity to experience what goes into life at sea. Clark's been involved in funding similar marine-related nonprofits through the James H. Clark Charitable Foundation, including the World Wide Fund for Nature, Wildlife Australia, the Oceanic Preservation Society, and the Jean Michel Cousteau Institutenamed after the great French oceanographic explorer and environmentalist.

Clark's approach to giving is unique, and it will be interesting to see where future passions take him and what he decides to support next.