A Quick Look at One of the Most Generous Duos to Yet Emerge from Silicon Valley

Sure, some may have more money than Leonard Bosack and Sandy Lerner, but few give as much.

Of course, "more" is a relative term when considering the context of Silicon Valley. And although Bosack and Lerner can't touch the Bill Gateses or Gordon Moores of the world in sheer numbers, you could argue that the founders of Cisco have done as much or more with their millions than the vast majority of their esteemed colleagues.

Growing up in Philadelphia, Leonard Bosack didn't venture too far from home when he enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania as a business student. After completing his degree, he attended graduate school at Stanford, where he pursued the two things that would later become the bedrock of his life—computer science and Sandy Lerner, a particularly intriguing young manager at the Stanford Business School lab.

The two would quickly marry, and didn't wait long before developing Cisco Systemsa tech company specializing in router technology—in their own garage. (What is it about those garages in Silicon Valley?)

When the company finally went public, investors brought in professional managers and Lerner was muscled outcausing Bosack to resign in protest. The two walked away with $170 million in stock options, a sizeable amount, until you consider the fact that only a few short years later, Cisco Systems was being valued at over $6 billion. Today, it has a market cap of nearly $60 billion. 

The couple would divorce not long after leaving Cisco, but not before creating the Bosack/Kruger Foundation. Through the foundation Bosack and Lerner have committed 70 percent of their wealth, making them arguably the biggest givers in tech, an industry that's produced some notable philanthropists, but also many billionaires who give very little. 

We should mention that Bosack and Lerner aren't the only Cisco winners that have put their money to good use. The company's former CEO, John Morgridgewho walked away from his years at Cisco with a very large fortuneruns the Tosa Foundation with his wife Tashia.

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Most of the causes Lerner and Bosack support through their foundation have to do with animal welfare, a passion that many have attributed more to Lerner than to Bosack himself. Bosack and his wife have been prolific supporters of animal welfare through their donations to a number of organizations, including WildEarth Guardians, SPAY/USA, Born Free USA, the Austin Zoo, the African Elephant Conservation Trust, and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Bosack and Lerner are also known for their contributions toward the creation of the Chawton House Library in a house previously owned by the great Jane Austen, which the couple helped transform into a research center specializing in 18th- and 19th-century women writers. Other contributions from their foundation have gone to various universities for tech and conservation research, and even the SETI institute which conducts research on life in the universe.

Both Bosack and Lerner, though far removed from their glory days in Silicon Valley, still continue to give out an impressive number of grants through their foundation. Given their track record and insistence on giving, it'd be safe to assume that they don't plan on stopping anytime soon.