Nice to be a Rockerfeller Source: Flickr
In a speech at his alma matter, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Tom Siebel outlined his philosophy of giving. Siebel was critical of large mainstream charitable foundations awarding hundreds of small grants - many as small as $20,000. Siebel feels this dissipates their impact.
"We don't do much and we don't do it very often, but when we do it we do it pretty substantially," he said.
In 1999, Siebel started the Siebel Scholars program which supports graduate students studying computer science, bioengineering and business from the country's top universities - arguably the least needy people in the world. Why?
"These are 870 of maybe the smartest people in world," said Siebel. "They hold conferences regularly on a variety of big issues and I think we make change happen."
One of the projects the scholars helped launch was the Meth Project, which Siebel described as a large-scale exercise in the prevention in methamphetamine addiction through marketing and advertising. If you live in one of the in eight US states the project operates you can attest to the impact this charity has had. Over the years the organization has grown to have an annual budget of $40 million.
Another organization that spun out of the Siebel Scholars program is the Siebel Stem Cell Institute at the University of California, Berkeley which funds a variety of research with the goal of treating and curing diseases like breast cancer and lymphoma.
One idea still in the formative stage is a Siebel Energy Institute, which Siebel envisions as funding research in machine learning and algorithm development relating to power generation delivery.
"We're in the business of creating organizations that make change happen," said Siebel.