Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates join the season of giving

Two of the tech world’s biggest philanthropists made impressive personal contributions this week.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is selling 41 million shares of company stock in a secondary offering, will give 18 million of those shares — worth about $990 million — to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Silicon Valley-based Breakthrough Prize for Life Science, likened to the Oscars of science.

Last year, Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, gave 18 million Facebook shares — then worth about half a billion dollars — to the community foundation, and the couple ranked second behind Warren Buffet as the nation’s most generous donors.  Zuckerberg also has his own foundation, Startup: Education, which funds tech-based projects to improve public education, and is active in funding Code.org, an organization devoted to teaching coding in schools.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has a long history of charitable giving, and this week made another, with a very personal touch. A Reddit user participating in the site’s Secret Santa program received a package in the mail containing a book, a stuffed cow and a personal message — from Gates. The stuffed animal represented the gift of a real cow through Heifer International, a group that fights hunger in the developing world.

“My Secret Santa present to you is a cow,” Gates wrote to the woman, identified only as Rachel, who blogged about the experience on Reddit. “Don’t worry, you will not have to build a barn.” To prove he was legit, Gates included a photo of himself with the note and stuffed cow.

“My jaw hit the EVER LOVING FLOOR,” Rachel wrote. “Thank you so much Bill for a fantastic and thoughtful gift.”

And just to show what a nice guy he was, Gates didn’t even hold a certain item in Rachel’s wish list against her: “ps: Sorry for the apple ipad on my wishlist, that was really awkward,” she added.

 

At top: Bill Gates holds up a personal note to Reddit user Rachel. (Photo via Reddit)

Mike Murphy Mike Murphy (354 Posts)

Mike Murphy is a web producer at the Mercury News, and also writes for Good Morning Silicon Valley and 60-Second Business Break.