Yes, he’s a tech billionaire. According to Forbes’ rankings, he’s among the wealthiest people in the United States. But he’s also an environmental activist with a record that stands out from much of the billionaire’s club. Born in St. Louis, MO, Doerr graduated from Rice University and Harvard Business School with an MBA in 1976. He’d joined Intel two years prior, so he managed to get in just as the company was building its landmark 8080 8-bit microprocessor, the chip many credit with kicking off the personal computer era. He rose through the ranks at Intel, becoming one of its most successful salespeople, all while also garnering several patents for himself. With money in his pocket (a lot even then), he joined Kleiner Perkins in 1980 and has directed many of that firm’s most successful investments in a luminary tech company with names like Amazon, Compaq, Google, Sun Microsystems, and more. In 2008 he announced with Steve Jobs that Kleiner Perkins would be establishing the $100 million iFund because, as he put it, the iPhone is “more important than the personal computer because it knows who you are and where you are.” A little creepy when put that way, but true. So it’s established that he’s a wildly successful technology investor, but that’s not what got him on this list.
Why They Made the Worthy 100: Along with his long tech investing career, Doerr has also invested in environmental and social change organizations. He cofounded and still serves on the board of the New School Ventures Fund, which helps education reform and charter public schools. He also co-chaired California’s Proposition 30, which helped approve school bonds, and Proposition 71, which created roughly $3 billion allocated for research into stem cell therapies. Doerr also regularly speaks out on clean energy and climate change issues and has directed funding to companies involved in those struggles on several occasions. Though he retired from Kleiner Perkins in 2016, he’s capped off his long career by putting his John Hancock on the Bill and Melinda Gates Giving Pledge, which has become fashionable for the socially-minded billionaire set. But what wasn’t so common happened in May of 2022, when Stanford University announced its first new school in 70 years, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. The school came about due to a record $1.1 billion donation Doerr made in 2022, the second-largest gift that Stanford has ever received.