Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said he is donating $1 million to help solve global problems through technology. “I think I should put my money where my mouth is,” Schmidt told CBS, in a promotion for The New Digital Age, his book co-written with Jared Cohen. “We identified a whole bunch of companies all over the world trying to solve oppressive censorship, empower individuals, and make these phones more useful.”
Details will be forthcoming, and it should be noted that Schmidt isn’t the only tech billionaire to give to charities that foster innovation. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates has spent a sizable portion of his charity on online education, including the wildly popular Khan Academy YouTube lecture series. He’s also used his leverage to push the philanthropic world to become more data-driven, advocating for randomized control trials of charitable projects.
eBay Founder Pierre Omidyar has invested in everything from open government group The Sunlight Foundation to micro-financer Kiva. Like Gates, he’s also tried to break the mold of traditional nonprofit philanthropy, with impact investing — innovations that do good and make money at the same time. One such investment is d.light, a for-profit venture that designs solar-powered light to the developing world.
There are a number of organizations and companies that build technology that help fight corruption and oppression. Benetech, for instance, uses statistical algorithms to help convict dictators by proving that they likely did, in fact, commit murder. The US State department has also helped promote technologies that allow dissidents to thwart government crack-downs on the Internet.
Details about which organizations or companies will receive grants will be announced March 10.