John and Ann Doerr's $1.1 Billion Donation Will Start a Climate School at Stanford

Sophie Hirsh - Author

May 5 2022, Published 10:54 a.m. ET

John Doerr
Source: Getty Images

When Elon Musk bought Twitter for $44 billion last month, many criticized the wealthy businessman for not using the money to fight climate change instead. And now, he’s being shown up by some of the other richest people in the world — John Doerr and Ann Doerr just donated $1.1 billion dollars to fund a new climate change school at Stanford University.

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So who is John Doerr, the venture capitalist behind this record-breaking donation? Keep reading to learn more about the Doerrs, their contribution, and what to expect from the new climate school.

Who is John Doerr? He is helping start Stanford's climate school.

John Doerr and President Barack Obama
Source: Getty Images

President Barack Obama meets with his Economic Recovery Advisory Board as Monica Lozan, Paul Volcker, and John Doerr listen in the Roosevelt Room of the White House on Nov. 2, 2009.

John Doerr, 70, is a venture capitalist, investor, and engineer, currently serving as the chair of VC firm Kleiner Perkins. According to his profile on Kleiner Perkins’ website, he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Rice University in Texas, and his MBA from Harvard Business School.

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In 1975, he moved to Silicon Valley with aspirations of working for a VC firm and starting his own business. He soon got a job at Intel, and five years later, joined Kleiner Perkins. The firm went on to invest in two of Doerr’s startups: Silicon Compilers (a custom chip design company) and @Home (a broadband internet company).

In his approximate 42 years at Kleiner Perkins, Doerr has led the funding of numerous companies, including DoorDash, Compaq, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Slack, Twitter, and Uber.

All of this work has helped Doerr amass his current fortune and allowed him the time and money to focus on philanthropy alongside his wife, Ann Doerr. He has also written two books about bettering the world: Measure What Matters and Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving Our Climate Crisis Now.

But what is John Doerr's net worth?

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John Doerr

Venture capitalist and investor

Net worth: 11.3 billion

Venture capitalist John Doerr of VC firm Kleiner Perkins is ranked 175 on Forbes' list of richest people in the world.

In addition to his above-listed work at Kleiner Perkins and credits as an author, President Barack Obama named Doerr a Member of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness in 2011. And in 2015, the Obama Foundation appointed Doerr to its Board of Directors.

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Who is Ann Doerr? The philanthropist is a major supporter of Stanford.

Ann Doerr is a philanthropist who currently serves as chair of the nonprofit Khan Academy, and as an advisory board member for the Environmental Defense Fund, according to Stanford.

Like her husband, Ann also got her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in electrical engineering at Rice University. She then went on to hold jobs at companies including Intel, Tandem Computers, and Silicon Compilers.

Ann has also been involved in philanthropy work at Stanford, where she has sat on Stanford Medicine’s Cancer Council and Under One Umbrella Steering Committee. And together with her husband, she has donated to various sectors of the university over the years, including Stanford Medicine, Stanford Cancer Center, and Lively Arts.

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John Doerr and Ann Doerr’s donation will fund Stanford’s new climate school.

On May 4, 2022, Stanford University announced that this coming fall, the institution will launch the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. The new school will be made possible through John and Ann Doerr’s donation of $1.1 billion, as well a number of other donors’ combined donations of $590 million; in total, that’s $1.69 billion.

According to Stanford, this is the biggest donation in the history of the school. It is also the second largest donation to a university ever. The only higher one was when Michael Bloomberg’s 2018 gift of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University, according to The New York Times.

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“This new school will accelerate scholarship and solutions to pressing challenges facing the earth, climate, and society. It is the result of visionary thinking about the role of the university and our shared ambition to make a measurable impact on the climate crisis,” John Doerr tweeted in celebration of his donation. “We are deeply energized by the thousands of passionate students who will change the world as entrepreneurs, innovators, and stewards of our planet.”

The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability will focus on climate change solutions.

In the fall of 2022, the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability will kick off with around 90 of Stanford’s current faculty members; over the next decade, the school will hire around 60 new faculty members, according to Stanford.

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In general, the school will focus on three topics: earth, climate, and society. More specifically, the school will work to “power excellence” across eight scholarship focuses:

  • Climate change

  • Earth and planetary sciences

  • Energy technology

  • Food and water security

  • Human health and the environment

  • Human society and behavior

  • Sustainable cities

  • The natural environment.

The Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability will absorb the current Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and the Precourt Institute for Energy, as well as launch the new Institute for Sustainable Societies. The new school will also launch the Sustainability Accelerator, which will focus on developing climate solutions, in both the realms of policy and technology.

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