noun – term used to describe a new generation of philanthropists who are working to solve the world’s most pressing problems
Sean Parker speaks onstage during the launch of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.
Based in Oakland, California, FCP is just a short drive away from some of the world’s most forward-thinking and cutting edge companies that call Silicon Valley home. We hear people talk about being innovative a lot. And I mean a lot. Another bromide firmly embedded in Bay Area zeitgeist is the concept of “hacker culture,” which generally refers to technologist, engineers and inventors working to innovate on our break up the status quo. But lately, in our conversations with clients and reporters, we are hearing a new term come up with increasing frequency: “hacker philanthropy.”
Coined by Facebook investor billionaire Sean Parker, the term “hacker philanthropy” is meant to describe a new kind of philanthropist. Parker recently described the paradigm shift to the Financial Times: “I don’t even see it as giving away money as much as trying to solve a set of social or political problems that are not easily addressable with for-profit companies and investments.” Recently, Parker pledged $250 million to reshape the field of cancer immunology through the new Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy. Similarly, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan have pledged up to $1 billion shares of their Facebook stock to advance human potential and promote equality. Others in Parker and Zuckerberg’s cohort like Netflix’s Reed Hastings and Salesforce’s Marc Benioff have made similar pledges of support to some of the world’s most pressing problems.
According to an op-ed by Parker in the Wall Street Journal, “hackers share certain values: an antiestablishment bias, a belief in radical transparency, a nose for sniffing out vulnerabilities in systems, a desire to ‘hack’ complex problems using elegant technological and social solutions, and an almost religious belief in the power of data to aid in solving these problems.” Hacker philanthropists are applying these principals to philanthropy in the hopes of catalyzing more concrete change in the world.