San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco billionaire giving away his fortune

Ash Jurberg

San Francisco is full of tech pioneers who have made large fortunes.

I write about the success of many of them, but one question readers always ask is what these billionaires do to give back to their community.

So today, I thought I would write about Silicon Valley pioneer Gordon Moore. He has given away over $5.5 billion. Considering his net worth is currently $9.8 billion, that is a vast chunk of his wealth that he has donated.

Let's take a quick look at his story.

The San Francisco billionaire giving away his fortune

Moore was born in San Francisco in 1929 and received a Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Berkley, in 1950. He then earned a Ph.D. from Caltech in 1954.

After completing his studies, he worked in research and development at a couple of organizations before co-founding the semiconductor firm Intel in 1968. Intel has since grown to become the world's largest semiconductor chip manufacturer by revenue and is the developer of the x86 series of microprocessors found in most personal computers.

The success of Intel led to Gordon Moore becoming a multi-billionaire.


In 2000, Moore launched the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation together with his wife.

Betty and I established the Foundation because we believe it can make a significant and positive impact in the world. We want the Foundation to tackle large, important issues at a scale where it can achieve significant and measurable impacts.

Each year it gives away over $300 million in grants focusing on environmental conservation, patient care, scientific research, and the San Francisco Bay area.

With respect to the Bay Area, we spent most of our lives here and want to help preserve the area’s special character. Even with a local geographic focus we still envision the same results-oriented strategic principles be applied in a regional context.

The list of million-dollar donations made by the Moores is very long, but I wanted to highlight a few below.

  • In 2001 $600 million was given to Caltech - the largest-ever donation to a university at the time.
  • In 2007, $100 million was pledged to create The Betty Irene Moore Nursing Initiative, targeting nursing care in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater Sacramento.
  • Last year in September, the Moore Foundation joined eight other groups to pledge $5 billion over ten years to support biodiversity. The commitment made is to ensure that 30% of the planet is protected in the most important places for biodiversity by 2030.

Readers, what do you think of Gordon Moore's story? Have any of you met or worked for Gordon Moore? Or perhaps at a San Francisco organization that has benefited from his donations?

Please leave your comments below.

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