11 extremely wealthy tech executives who choose to live frugally

David karpRob Kim/Getty Images for TumblDavid Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr.

While some tech executives are quick to splurge on yachts and mega-mansions, others aren’t so flashy with their riches.

Biz Stone, for example, says he’s too embarrassed to drive anything more flashy than a dented Volkswagen Golf, while Sergey Brin likes to buy things in bulk at Costco.

We’ve rounded up 11 tech executives who have made millions or even billions with their companies yet have chosen lives of frugality and charity.

David Cheriton, Stanford professor

Net worth: $US2.9 billion

Cheriton, a professor at Stanford and cofounder of Arista Networks, became one of the first investors in Google after Larry Page and Sergey Brin did a demo of their project on his front porch in 1998. That initial $US100,000 check has obviously paid off, but Cheriton dislikes the thought of being a billionaire.

'I'm actually quite offended by that sort of thing,' he told the Edmonton Journal in a 2006 interview. 'These people who build houses with 13 bathrooms and so on, there's something wrong with them.'

He drives a 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon, has lived in the same Palo Alto home for the past 30 years, cuts his own hair, and even claims to reuse his tea bags. He did, however, splurge on a Honda Odyssey for his kids back in 2012.

Charlie Ergen, founder and CEO of Dish Network

Net worth: $US17.8 billion

Ergen is notorious for being a frugal leader and micromanager -- up until about 10 years ago, he insisted on signing every check that came out of Dish.

He packs a lunch of a sandwich and Gatorade before work every day, and until recently, he shared hotel rooms with colleagues during travel.

'My mum grew up in the Depression,' he told the Financial Times. 'I don't have a mahogany desk.'

Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba

Net worth: $US22.8 billion

Ma is one of the wealthiest men in China, but he's made few splurge purchases and prefers to keep his personal life out of the spotlight. Ma grew up poor in communist China, failed his college entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs.

Even though he has become a bit of a celebrity in China, he still enjoys quiet meditation in the mountains and playing poker with friends.

'Ma Yun's lifestyle is very simple and modest. His hobbies are still tai chi and kung fu novels,' Chen, his friend and assistant, said to USA Today. 'I don't think he has changed much, he is still that old style.'

Pierre Omidyar, founder and chairman of eBay

Net worth: $US8.2 billion

Omidyar became a billionaire when eBay went public in 1998, but he never thought spending all of his money would be satisfying.

'We sort of skipped the 'regular rich' and we went straight to 'ridiculous rich,'' he said to Forbes. 'I had the notion that, OK, so now we have all of this wealth, we could buy not only one expensive car, we could buy all of them. As soon as you realise that you could buy all of them, then none of them are particularly interesting or satisfying.'

David Karp, founder and CEO of Tumblr

Net worth: at least $US200 million

Tumblr, the blogging platform Karp founded as a teen, may be worth some $US1.1 billion, but Karp prefers to live a simple lifestyle.

His one splurge was a 1,700-square-foot loft in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. He reportedly paid $US1.6 million for the space, but apparently it's half-empty.

'I don't have any books. I don't have many clothes,' Karp said to Forbes. 'I'm always so surprised when people fill their homes up with stuff.'

Biz Stone, cofounder of Twitter, Medium, and Jelly

Net worth: rumoured to be as much as $US200 million

Stone has found plenty of business success, but he drives an old Volkswagen Golf and says he 'would feel embarrassed' if he bought an extravagant new car car or home. 'It would just reflect poorly on me somehow,' he told Vanity Fair.

Stone grew up on welfare and struggled with credit-card debt for years. He and his wife Livy now focus on philanthropy.

'The most important thing for me about having money is that it takes away most of the anxiety I've lived with my whole life,' he said. 'Our version of buying a Lamborghini and owning a giant house is that we give away a lot of money to help others.'

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple

Net worth: rumoured to be as much as $US400 million

Tim Cook has historically been one of Silicon Valley's highest-paid executives, but you would never know it by the way he lives.

Cook is famously low-profile, and he makes his home in a 2,095-square-foot condo in Palo Alto. The $US1.9 million he paid for it is a relatively low price for the neighbourhood.

'I like to be reminded of where I came from, and putting myself in modest surroundings helps me do that. Money is not a motivator for me.'

Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos

Net worth: close to $US1 billion

Though Hsieh sold his company LinkExchange to Microsoft for $US265 million in 1999, he has decided to put his wealth to a more constructive use rather than live a glamorous life.

Over the past several years, he has personally invested $US350 million to transform downtown Las Vegas into a tech hub.

'What Tony is doing is out of the box, not typical, not normal,' early Zappos investor Erik Moore said. 'Most people would wonder why he doesn't ride off into the sunset with the amount of money he's earned.'

Sergey Brin, cofounder of Google

Net worth: $US29.1 billion

It may seem counterintuitive to say that a man who owns several private planes is frugal, yet Brin has confessed to disliking spending money.

'From my parents, I certainly learned to be frugal and to be happy without very many things,' he said in a 2007 interview. 'It's interesting -- I still find myself not wanting to leave anything on the plate uneaten. I still look at prices. I try to force myself to do this less, not to be so frugal. But I was raised being happy with not so much.'

He's also a frequent Costco shopper and a major philanthropist -- he and his now-separated wife Anne Wojcicki gave away $US219 million in 2013.

Now read about a CEO who chooses to spend his money in a different way.

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