Silicon Valley’s failure to give more money to charity is “implausible,” according to Pat Gelsinger, CEO of Valley giant VMware.
Gelsinger told Business Insider during an interview in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress 2017 that he’s campaigning to increase the amount of money that wealthy people in tech give to charity.
“The richest area on earth is one of the least philanthropic areas on earth,” Gelsinger said. “The fact that we can say we have the highest per capita income in the world and one of the lowest giving rates in the United States, this is implausible.”
Gelsinger has a theory that explains why Silicon Valley is so bad at giving money to charity. His theory includes two reasons: People in Silicon Valley aren’t religious, and they’re also pretty young too.
“I believe faith brings about charity,” Gelsinger said. “I think there is a charitable aspect that faiths uniformly induce into people, into their consciousness. So the lack of a faith tradition creates a lack of philanthropic tradition.”
And “the Bay Area is young money,” according to Gelsinger. “People are accumulating wealth, they haven’t been worried how they distribute wealth, or how they use their wealth. People are so busy, ‘I don’t have time, I’m investing in this company, I’m starting that company’ and so on.”
Gelsinger said he met with a friend of his who shocked him by admitting that he gave nothing to charity. “I was with a billionaire friend of mine. [He has] been extremely successful. He gives zero to charity. I couldn’t believe it,” Gelsinger said. “I look at him, ‘really? You can’t do that?!’ He says ‘Yeah, I’ll let my kid take care of that.’ I said what a curse to put on your child with none of your moral compass, none of your convictions. To have you develop wealth and her have now the responsibility to disperse wealth with never having learned that? To me, that was almost criminal.”
Gelsinger himself has an extreme approach to philanthropy. “We started our giving discipline when we had little. Very early in our marriage we committed to giving an increasing percentage of our gross income,” Gelsinger said. “We started at 10%, a standard Christian tithe, and we’ve added a percentage to that every year. That was over 30 years ago. There you go. So 10 plus 30, we’re closing in on 50% of our gross income.”
VMware’s SEC filings show that Gelsinger’s total compensation for 2015 was $US14.4 million (£11.8 million). That included $US11.9 million (£9.7 million) in stock awards, $US1.4 million (£1.1 million) in “non-equity incentive plan compensation” and a base salary of $US1 million (£819,000).