For as much as venture capitalists like to position themselves as disruptors–they stood with the 99 percent and not the 1 percent during Occupy Wall Street–they are, after all, barons in their own right. And now they’re following the philanthropic model of their corporate brethren and donating at the firm, rather than the individual, level. Today, Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz promised to donate at least half of their venture capital income from Andreessen Horowitz to charity.
Historically, TechCrunch notes, “major philanthropy in the industry has mostly come from individuals, like John Doerr and Michael Moritz.” Perhaps Mr. Andreessen has been influenced by some pillow talk? In December, the New York Times profiled his wife Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen’s attempts to encourage “tech titans like her husband to become as famous for giving money as they are for making it,” before they retire. She advised Mark Zuckerberg and his girlfriend Priscilla Chan, for example, on their $100 million donation to Newark public schools.
As part of the pledge, the partners announced that they are jointly donating $1 million to six local charities today. Mr. Andreessen choose Fresh Lifelines for Youth, a charity for underprivileged children and Mr. Horowitz choose Via Services, a group that helps people with special needs, reports Dealbook.
The notion of “half-giving,” of course, is best associated with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who have been encouraging their fellow billionaires to follow suit through the Giving Pledge. But Dealbook notes that Mr. Andreessen, who donated to Mitt Romney’s campaign earlier this year, did not reach out to Mr. Buffet.
In fact, it was Scott Weiss, a new addition to the firm, who initially brought up the notion. Andreeessen Horowitz raised a $1.5 billion fund in January, so many of its newer investments, such as Fab.com, Pinterest, and Foursquare, have yet to exit. But Dealbook says that the decision to donate as a firm was unanimous.