Here at Kohli Ventures, we’re big fans of ambitious philanthropy. This generation of tech tycoons have garnered a reputation as givers whose philanthropy does not just give out big sums, but also thinks big ideas. For entrepreneurs like Elon Musk or Mark Zuckerberg, Naveen Jain or our founder Tej Kohli, net worth and rich-list positions are far less interesting factors than the ambition of their philanthropic plans.
The Tej Kohli Cornea Institute created by tech entrepreneur Tej Kohli is not just offering low-cost corneal treatment in developing countries; it has also planning new ways of creating synthetic cornea, from yeast and peptides, so that people who need new corneas do not have to wait on a transplant list.
InfoSpace founder Naveen Jain’s investment in the “Digital Doctor” X PRIZE aims to create an AI system to serve as a complete diagnostic tool in rural areas with few doctors.
Facebook founders Mark Zuckerberg and Yuri Milner are collaborating with world-famous physicist Dr. Stephen Hawking on a $100 billion search for alien life in the Alpha Centauri star system.
And PayPal creator and serial philanthropist Elon Musk, who has started non-profits for electric cars, solar power and open artificial intelligence systems, insists that he is going to get humans walking on Mars by 2022.
Ever since the first man set his foot on the moon in 1969, scientists have set their sights on a further off goal. It was an incredible moment of pride, not just for the USA, whose astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first person to take that “small step for man, and massive leap for mankind,” but for the whole world.
Nowadays, we get space crafts to the moon faster than planes can get from New York to Delhi!
And Musk’s foundation, SpaceX, has set its sights on the next frontier. “What I really want to try to achieve here is to make Mars seem possible – like it’s something we can achieve in our lifetimes,” Musk claimed in Guadalajara, Mexico, at the International Astronautical Congress.
Musk’s plan is to spend around $10 billion per person on sending a select group of volunteers on a one-way trip to the Red Planet. Such a project is prohibitively expensive for governments, which rely on tax revenue. But Musk (net worth approximately $11.6 billion) is bankrolling large amounts of the cost himself, saying that “The reason I am personally accruing assets is to fund this. I really have no other purpose than to make life interplanetary.”
The plan is to send a Dragon capsule over to the planet in 2018, to track signs of life and inhabitability. After that, a second flight around 26 months later will gather more information, and then four people will head out to the planet in 2022, with support from NASA. Musk is known for throwing out ambitious schedules, and has begun to mention 2024 instead of 2022. But either date would represent an incredible breakthrough in space exploration technology.
Whatever happens, the Space X project represents the power of truly bold philanthropy. The tech entrepreneurs who made their money in the early ‘00s are now sitting back to look around and change the world – and the energy and tenacity that helped companies like Facebook and PayPal to change global culture and lifestyles is going to make big changes in the non-profit world too.