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Andreessen Horowitz partners pledge half their earnings to philanthropy
Source:  ·  April 26, 2012  ·  Excerpt

In his short time as a venture capitalist, Marc Andreessen has shaken up the way Silicon Valley startups get funded.

Now, the Netscape co-founder wants to do the same for nonprofits.

In a blog post Wednesday, all six general partners at Menlo Park's Andreessen Horowitz venture firm pledged to give away half their earnings. And they're starting with a combined $1 million gift to various Bay Area charities.

Emmett Carson, head of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, called the pledge "one of the most significant acts of philanthropy in the 21st century."

Carson, who's spent most of his career in the Midwest and East Coast, thinks the valley gets a bad rap for stinginess. Last year alone, he said, 100 new donors gave a combined $470 million to his foundation, which administers more than 1,500 funds from corporations and wealthy individuals.

Still, he said, the Andreessen Horowitz announcement will have an impact because -- unlike the similar pledge that investor Warren Buffett has been buttonholing the world's billionaires to sign -- "it's actionable today. It's not one of those things where you're making a promise of what you will do in the future."

And Elon Musk, the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla Motors who recently joined Buffett's Giving Pledge, said the fact that most of Andreessen's Advertisement partners are "merely" multimillionaires will echo broadly throughout the valley and beyond.

"People who are worth less than a billion can have a far more cumulative effect than a small number of billionaires," said Musk, who started his own philanthropic foundation a decade before signing the Giving Pledge. Among others who have signed on to Buffett's effort are valley venture capitalists John Doerr, Vinod Khosla and Michael Moritz, along with Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar.

Musk, who is also a co-founder of PayPal, said of the Andreessen announcement: "I hope this will encourage people, no matter what their wealth status is."

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Our take
Trends in philanthropic decision-making among billionaires can be inspiring, if not instructive, for any organization. While you may not be interacting with the Warren Buffetts and Marc Andreessens of the world, there are certainly wealthy individuals in your area that may see the actions of these thought leaders as a cue to step up their own giving, albeit on a smaller scale.

Contact Compass Pointe now for answers to these and other questions:

  • What is the giving potential of donors and constituents in my industry, local area or region?
  • How are trends in giving researched by Compass Pointe and others? What wealth and demographic research is available and how may I act upon it?


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