Better angels: 7 tech tycoons who gave very, very generously

Not all of tech's nouveau riches are selfish bozos -- some have donated hundreds of millions to research in medical science, hospitals, and universities

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Oracle Chairman Jeff Henley and his wife, Judy Henley, are concerned about the budget hits the University of California has taken over the years, so they donated $50 million to UC Santa Barbara last year. Of that, $26 million will go toward a new building for the university's Institute for Energy Efficiency and $1 million for general support of that institute; $20 million will endow the College of Engineering, with $3 million going toward faculty salaries.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen reached No. 4 on the list of top donors by contributing $309.1 million last year. Most of the money went to the Allen Institute for Brain Science to pay for the first phase of a 10-year project to examine how the brain works and what causes neurological disorders. It will also be used to double the staff of the institute. Allen also gave $8 million to the EMP Museum, which he founded. The museum is in Seattle, and according to its website, it is dedicated "to the ideas and risk taking that fuel contemporary popular culture."

AOSense co-founder James Spilker, Jr., and his wife Anna Marie Spilker donated $28 million to Stanford University's School of Engineering. AOSense designs and builds sensors, but Spilker, now a consulting professor at Stanford, is best known for pioneering work that led to the development of the Global Positioning System.

I'm not clear on the methodology used by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, so I don't know why Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates isn't on the list. No matter. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which the couple set up in 1997, gives away nearly $4 billion a year. Because ill health and poverty go hand in hand, much of the foundation's money goes to fighting malaria and paying for vaccination drives against infectious diseases. As the Financial Times has pointed out, that $4 billion is nearly half as much as the U.S. government spent on global health initiatives in 2012.

Here's to a generous and peaceful 2014. Happy New Year!

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This article, "Better angels: 7 tech tycoons who gave very, very generously," was originally published by Read more of Bill Snyder's Tech's Bottom Line blog and follow the latest technology business developments at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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