Apple chief executive Tim Cook plans to become the latest business leader to give away his fortune.
In an extended interview with Fortune magazine, the Apple leader said he will give away $US785 million – or $A1 billion – to charity after he pays for college for his 10-year-old nephew.
“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripples for change,” Cook says about his philanthropy and his public advocacy for human rights, stopping the transmission of AIDS and immigration reform.
Fortune estimates Cook’s net worth at around $US120 million in current holdings of Apple stock and restricted stock worth $US665 million if it were fully vested.
Cook told Fortune he has already begun privately donating money but he eventually plans to “take time to develop a systematic approach to philanthropy rather than simply writing checks.
Cook joins the likes of other high-profile philanthropists to share their wealth, including billionaire investor Warren Buffett, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
Closer to home, the founders of tech success story Atlassian, Scott Farquhar and Mike Cannon-Brookes, have set aside 1% equity to the Atlassian Foundation, which is now estimated to be worth more than $40 million.
Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes have joined forces with the Salesforce Foundation and Entrepreneurs Foundation of Colorado to encourage other entrepreneurs to also donate 1% of their companies through the Pledge 1% program.
Peter Gahan, founder and director of the Centre for Workplace Leadership at the University of Melbourne, told SmartCompany companies setting aside money for charitable causes has emerged as a “well and truly healthy trend” over at least the past five years.
And Gahan says examples such as Readings booksellers in Melbourne, which supports community programs and events through its Readings Foundation, and IGA Supermarkets, which has put a proportion of its cash back into community projects for years, prove philanthropy is not just the domain of the world’s largest companies.
“There is growing acceptance among companies that just focusing on shareholder value is not going to sustain them in the long run,” Gahan says.
Melbourne University offers courses in social entrepreneurship and Gahan says what has come out of those courses is that younger entrepreneurs are more interested in starting companies with a social purpose.
“There are generational changes happening,” Gahan says.
“There is a realisation the environment we rely on is increasingly fragile and so a broader perspective and broader responsibilities are needed.”
Gahan says the challenge for governments then becomes how to effectively “harness the power of corporate philanthropy to meet policy needs”.