Amount donated: $600m through the Parker foundation in 2015; $35m+ in other causes prior to 2015.
Philanthropic causes: Life sciences, global public health, civic engagement.
Region of philanthropic focus: USA, global
Ranking: Sean was ranked number 5 on the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2014 Philanthropy 50 list.
Net worth: Estimated at $2.4bn by Forbes in 2016.
Source of wealth: Co-founder of file-sharing computer service Napster; first president of Facebook; tech-entrepreneurship.
A self-proclaimed lover of the Internet, hacking, and charitable giving, Sean Parker has made as many rifts in the philanthropic world as he has in the Silicon Valley. Voted 5th on the Chronicle’s Philanthropy 50 List of 2014, Parker donates his great wealth via his organisation, the Parker Foundation. Parker is committed to identifying and resolving issues facing humanity, including climate change, health and education, and public policy, and has actively supported a plethora of causes, both financially and managerially.
Parker is a self-made billionaire who made his money off the back of tech-entrepreneurship. At the age of 19, Parker co-founded Napster, a file sharing computer service that revolutionized the music industry. By 21, he co-founded Plaxo, a highly successful online address book. However, Sean Parker is most well-known for
his involvement in Facebook, initially The Facebook, of which he was the first president. Combining his passion for giving and involvement in technology, Parker set up Facebook’s Causes app, which registered 180 million people to chosen charitable causes. Parker is the chairman and founder of the Economic innovation Group, an idea laboratory that gives ideas leverage to jumpstart economic growth in the USA.
Parker’s sense of innovation and entrepreneurship are ever present in his method of philanthropy. In 2006 Parker was made a managing partner at Founders Fund, a venture capital fund that invests in early-stage companies. Stepping down in 2014, Parker turned his attention to the establishment of his own oraganisation and in 2015 Parker contributed $600m to the launch of the Parker Foundation. The Foundation supports work in technology, media, entrepreneurship and public policy, and supports systematic change in 3 focus areas; life sciences, global public health and civic engagement.
Achievability and a commitment to systematic change form the basis of the Parker Foundation’s mission. Through the use of research, insight and capital, the organisation provides interdisciplinary approaches to tackle solvable problems. The Parker Foundation does not make grants, but works in collaboration with selected organisations, forming meaningful partnerships that work together.
Aside from the Parker Foundation, Parker is staunchly committed to cancer research. In 2012 he donated $5m to Stand Up to Cancer and the Cancer Research Institute, to lead immunological treatment, control and prevention of cancer. His dedication to the cause granted him the Oliver R. Grace Award for Distinguished Service in Advancing Cancer Research in 2013. He also donated
$24m to the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy Research, and dedicated $250m to the creation of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy in 2016, which will fund over 300 scientists in 40 laboratories.
Parker has been involved in a partnership that annually awards 20 entrepreneurs $100,000 for innovative start-ups. He has funded the Democrats in the past and advocates financial sector reform, gun control and the legalization of cannabis.
Sean’s wife, Alexandra, is a founding board member of The Parker Foundation and an active philanthropist. Focusing predominately on initiatives around the arts, education and conservation, Alexandra aspires to help children make a difference, now and in the future. She is principally involved organising and implementing the oraganisation’s innovative approach to identifying and solving the problems that humanity faces today. She is an artist, musician, and dedicated mother to her and Sean’s two children.
Parker says his philanthropy is inspired by his faith in venture capital and risk-taking. “Most philanthropies and foundations sit back and wait for a proposal to come in – like they’re a poorly operated venture fund,” Parker stated. “My experience with venture is more proactive. You have to go out and go big game hunting.” Like most hackers, Parker does not set out to tackle problems that he does not believe have an attainable solution. “My guiding principle of all of my engagement is I try to only focus on the problems where I have some insight or a set of relationships or capabilities where I can actually do something about it and see a path to zero,” he said. “I’m trying to preserve an entrepreneurial approach, which is to only give when I feel that there’s a solution
that’s fully complete.