This post is part of the People’s Insights monthly briefs issue of March 2014.
The term ‘technophilanthropist’ was coined by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler in their book Abundance: The Future is better than you think, to represent the breed of millionaires who made their money in technology and committed themselves to giving back to society.
Technophilanthropist made a reappearance at SXSW this year, inspiring us to wonder… what should we expect from the thousands of new millionaires created by the tech industry’s acquisitions and IPOs?
What sets Technophilanthropists apart?
First, let’s understand what sets technophilanthropists apart from philanthropists. Diamandis and Kotler argue that technophilanthropists give back on a large scale and create innovative solutions to old problems.
1.) They give large amounts of money to philanthropy. For instance, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet introduced the Giving Pledge and urged billionaires to commit to giving half their wealth to charity of causes. Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz have both taken the pledge.
TechCrunch’s Gregory Ferenstein noted:
“Young tech billionaires gave generously in 2013. Of the 50 top philanthropists compiled by the Chronicle Of Philanthropy, only 4 were under the age of 50 and 3 of those were in the tech industry: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Facebook, $992M), Pierre and Pam Omidyar (Ebay, $225M) and Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki (Google, $219M).”
2.) They believe in driving large-scale change. eBay’s Jeff Skoll has invested heavily in social innovation through the Skoll Foundation to support change agents around the world. He has also launched movie production company Participant Media and activist platform TakePart to combine the powers of storytelling and citizen activism.
3.) They create new solutions to solve the world’s problems. PayPal’s Elon Musk is a supporter of renewable energy technologies, and an investor and currently CEO at Tesla Motors. He envisions that Tesla Motors will make electric cars affordable to the average consumer.
Today’s Gen Y Tech Millionaires
We have seen a huge addition to the number of in the number tech millionaires in recent years, many of them from Gen Y and even some from Gen Z.
Facebook and Twitter’s IPOs itself gave birth to over 2,600 millionaires and billionaires.
Acquisition battles are giving birth to more and more tech millionaires every day as the tech giants pick up startups and tech companies to stay ahead of one another. And yet more are coming from successful startups and web-based businesses.
Many studies have found that millennials are committed to making a difference and giving back to society. According to SXSW speaker and philanthropy consultant Tamarah Black, Gen Y technophilanthropists give $316 billion to charities annually.
Next Generation of Millionnaires under the age of 30 (View the full infographic here)
So, what can we expect in the future?
Elon Musk summarizes best the potential for the future:
“As some of the smartest people look at where to focus their energies next, they are now attracted to the biggest problems facing humanity, particularly in areas such as education, health care and sustainable energy…
“I believe it is very likely that they will solve the many challenges in those areas, and the result will be the creation of new technologies, companies and jobs that will bring prosperity to billions on earth.”