Michael Moritz and Harriet Heyman: Tech Grants

NET WORTH: $3.8 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Tech venture capitalist, Sequoia Capital

FUNDING AREAS: Education, The Arts, Bay Area Community, Civil Rights, Gun Safety 

OVERVIEW: Michael Moritz and wife Harriet Heyman are signatories of the Giving Pledge. In 2000, the couple founded The Crankstart Foundation, which prioritizes education, mostly through large donations to the schools with which the couple has a connection.

BACKGROUND: Michael Moritz grew up in Wales and attended Oxford before coming to the U.S. to study business at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. He worked briefly as a writer for Time, wrote a book on Apple computers, and co-authored another on Chrysler before joining the tech investment firm Sequoia Capital in 1986. At the firm, he quickly became a major player in the tech industry, having a hand in the creation and growth of some of the tech world's biggest companies, including Yahoo, Google, PayPal, Kayak, Cisco, YouTube and Zappos. He was previously on the board of Google, and currently serves on the boards of LinkedIn, Kayak, the Green Dot Corporation, and several others, but has stepped away from the day-to-day management of Sequoia because of a rare but manageable medical condition. 

Harriet Heyman is an accomplished novelist who previously worked at Life Magazine and the New York Times. She’s written Between Two Rains and Private Acts.


EDUCATION: Moritz's single-largest grant to date has been a $116 million donation to his alma mater, Oxford University. Under the program started with this grant, qualified students from families whose income falls below $25,000 receive enough support to cover all of their living costs and also receive lower rates on their student loans. In 2008, he made a donation of $50 million to American Friends of Christ Church, which benefited Oxford's Christ Church College, where he studied as an undergraduate. He has also made a $5 million grant to the Juilliard School's Music Advancement Program, and $30 million to endow Ph.D. programs at the UCSF. Moritz made $50 million in grants to the University of Chicago benefiting the Odyssey program which supports lower income students with outstanding potential.

Apart from major grants in higher education, Moritz and Harriet, via Crankstart, have supported places like Urban Education Institute, Oakland School for the Arts, UC Berkeley, and College Track.

THE ARTS: Grantees have included De Young Museum, Merola Opera Program, New World Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, and San Francisco Opera. In 2019, the couple, in keeping with Heyman’s background, announced it would sponsor the Booker Prize for novelists for the following five years through their Crankstart foundation.

BAY AREA COMMUNITY: The couple has strongly support Bay Area area parks including The Mesa Park Agency in Marin County and the Firehouse Community Park in Sacramento. They have also given funds to human services organizations and local Jewish organizations. 

GUN SAFETY & CIVIL RIGHTS: Grantees have included Everytown for Gun Safety, Equal Justice Initiative, Environmental Defense Fund, and International Rescue Committee. In 2018, Moritz announced a $20 million endowment gift to the ACLU on the couple’s behalf from their The Crankstart Foundation, their charitable vehicle. The gift, the largest endowment gift the ACLU has ever received, comprised an immediate $5 million gift and a $15 million Legacy Challenge.

LOOKING FORWARD: Moritz has kept his rare medical condition a secret, but it does make one wonder whether or not he will become more active in supporting medical research, particularly for rare diseases.