Last time we wrote about WhatsApp billionaire Jan Koum—the very epitome of a tech "instant billionaire" —we speculated that the 39-year old might give away some of a $7 billion fortune, which fell into his lap after he sold his company to Facebook. We talked a bit about his background, and how his Jewish family left a discriminatory climate in Urkraine to settle in California, where they got an apartment through government assistance.
Philanthropy is often personal, and so we're guessing that he may be interested in such issues as helping immigrants, the poor, or Jewish causes. Well, now it's a new year, and it looks like Koum started to ramp up his giving in 2014, giving away around $560 million, according to Chronicle of Philanthropy, ranking him the fourth-highest donor in the United States in 2014. To put that in perspective, the No. 1 donor, Bill Gates, who's also atop of this year's Forbes list with a net worth just under $80 billion, gave around $1.5 billion in 2014.
So Koum has definitely started to activate his philanthropy, only like a lot of other tech guys, nearly all that money went into a donor-advised fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.
This, of course, complicates things and makes it tough to see exactly which outfits Koum is funding. However, one clue might lie in a gift we do know for certain came out of SVCF from Koum: $1 million to the FreeBSD Foundation.
FreeBSD describes itself as an "an advanced computer operating system used to power modern servers, desktops and embedded platforms." Koum made a post about the gift on Facebook and talked about how the FreeBSD Foundation has helped support the operating system that allows "millions of programmers pursue their passions and bring their ideas of life."
Koum then lists himself as one of the many programmers who have used FreeBSD. In fact, Koum credits FreeBSD for helping him get out of poverty and hopes that it will help other people in similar situations to do the same: "We’ll all benefit if FreeBSD can continue to give people the same opportunity it gave me—if it can lift more immigrant kids out of poverty, and help more startups build something successful."
Of course, Koum is still very young and still engaged in business, but look for him to support similar projects down the line. As well, now that Koum is linked to the SVCF, one might also consider the kinds of investments SVCF likes to make, such as education.
Related: Jan Koum Guide