Former Facebook president and Napster co-founder Sean Parker has announced a $600 million gift to his foundation, which will focus on and take a distinctly entrepreneurial approach to three priority areas — civic engagement, global public health, and life sciences.
Parker, who donated $550 million to the and a donor-advised fund in 2014, putting him in the number-five spot on the 's Philanthropy 50 list for the year, told the Chronicle that the foundation will focus on areas where he believes definable objectives can be attained. "My guiding principle of all of my engagement," said Parker, "is...to 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....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." Many of the problems he is passionate about, Parker noted, including climate change and education reform, require changes driven by public policy and are too big for philanthropy to address fully.
Among Parker's objectives in the areas of global health and life sciences are the eradication of malaria; developing immunotherapies for cancer; and finding cures for allergies. Parker recently gave $4.5 million to the to improve the efficiency of malaria-eradication efforts worldwide and pledged $11 million in 2014 to create the at Stanford. In the area of civic engagement, the foundation will support the work of organizations such as and the , with Parker himself planning to continue to work on non-foundation ventures like , a for-profit social network for people who want to share and discuss their political views.
"The Parker Foundation will apply the lessons learned from Silicon Valley startups to our philanthropic initiatives," said Parker in a statement. "[M]ove fast, make concentrated bets based on our convictions, have the courage to make mistakes and learn from them."