Richest Utah native vows to give away 90% of his billions

Jeff T. Green, the brains behind The Trade Desk and who is worth $5.7 billion, wants to be part of the “most important philanthropic endeavor to this point in world history.”

With a net worth pegged at $5.7 billion, Utah native Jeff T. Green is now believed to be the wealthiest person who hails from the Beehive State.

He announced Tuesday that he has signed The Giving Pledge by committing to share “at least 90% of his wealth” in his life or at his death with philanthropic causes.

Green, who now lives in Southern California, is the CEO and chairman of The Trade Desk, an advertising technology firm he founded in 2009.

“I’m honored to join The Giving Pledge that you created,” Green wrote in a letter to Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, who launched the effort in 2010 with dozens of participants in the United States. “I believe that if I and the 224 pledgers before me live up to our pledges, this movement may be the most important philanthropic endeavor to this point in world history. I’m inspired. I want to do my part to keep this effort moving.”

The Trade Desk executive went on to describe an encounter he had as a teen with a homeless man and wondered, “Why is he out there on the streets in the December cold while I am living a more comfortable life?”

Like many others, Green said he grew up worrying about money.

“At a young age, I remember waiting in line with my mother for government food distributions,” he wrote in the letter. “Until well into adulthood, I constantly worried about having enough money to make ends meet. But it was never really about the money itself. It was always about what money can do.”

He believes that “smart, rational, passionate, motivated, focused, incentivized people” can use their resources “to change almost anything.”

Green has set up a family foundation, called Dataphilanthropy, whose mission is that “passionate, yet data-driven, rational philanthropy is the most effective way to deploy capital against humanity’s toughest problems,” he said. “We will invest in projects where we can apply data to understand progress, mistakes and opportunities. We will invest in communities, business and people with both time and money.”

The foundation “will focus on initiatives where hypotheses can be developed and tested with data, and then scaled based on performance and with the active involvement of key stakeholders.”

Initial investments have included a mentoring scholarship program at California State University Channel Islands that “helps students stay in school and graduate,” the release said. “Based on an analysis of dropout data, the program has improved graduation rates by helping students avoid key events that tend to lead to withdrawal.”

Dataphilanthropy also has provided scholarships to children and teenagers struggling with cancer, he said, “through The Ruth Cheatham Foundation, in order to help them stay in education during and after treatment.”

On top of the majority of his wealth, Green promises to “give of my time, my most precious commodity,” he said, “to allocate those funds deliberately, and to be personally engaged.”

Another prominent Utahn, Jon Huntsman Sr., also signed The Giving Pledge, in which wealthy individuals vow to donate at least half their wealth to charitable causes. Huntsman, who died in 2018, famously argued the bar should have been set at 80%.