Google co-founder Sergey Brin has donated $1 million to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), the organization that played a critical role in helping his family escape anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union and migrate to the States thirty years ago.
In the interview, Sergey Brin notes that he and his wife, Anne Wojcicki, would like to engage “more substantially” in philanthropic endeavors, acknowledging that the $1 million donation is relatively small if you consider that fact that his personal wealth is now an estimated $16 billion according to the Times. So far, the Brin family has donated over $30 million to charity, particularly to organizations who are involved with Parkinson’s disease.
Notably, Brin cites Microsoft founder and Chairman Bill Gates as an example:
Mr. Brin noted that Bill Gates, the chairman of Microsoft, was widely criticized for not giving away enough money but is now known as one of the world’s leading philanthropists. “While everyone was criticizing him, he was generating a whole lot more money for his foundation, and ultimately, when he got serious about philanthropy, he did it really well,” Mr. Brin said. “I’d like to learn from that example.”
In case you’re not familiar with the story of Brin growing up in the Soviet Union: Sergey was born in Moscow in 1973 and immigrated to the United States after moving to Paris, France for a couple of months at the age of six, when his parents found that the anti-Jew sentiments in their native country was blocking their professional careers. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society reportedly aided the Brins by helping them navigate the process of immigrating, helped them apply for visas and even supported them financially.
As the saying goes: what goes around, comes around.
HIAS CEO Gideon Aronoff said the gift will be used for increasing the organization’s use of technology, supporting advocacy on immigration policy, and more.
(Pic of Sergey Brin when he was only 8 years old courtesy of NY Times – also check out the video of his surprise appearance at the Web 2.0 Summit)