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Apple's Tim Cook plans to donate his wealth to charity

Joining the ranks of big donors like Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the Apple CEO says he intends to become a major philanthropist.

Apple's CEO has big-time philanthropy on his list of things to do. James Martin/CNET

Apple CEO Tim Cook is following in the footsteps of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates when it comes to philanthropy. Cook said he plans to give away his fortune after paying for his 10-year-old nephew's college, according to Fortune magazine.

"You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change," Cook told the publication.

Cook is part of a group of millionaire and billionaire tech executives who believe in sharing their wealth. Gates is the most well-known philanthropist in the group; with his wife, Melinda, he's donated $30.2 billion, or 37 percent of his net worth, according to Forbes. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has given away $1.5 billion, or 4 percent of his net worth over his lifetime. Other company chiefs, like Google co-founder Sergey Brin, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, are known for giving to charity.

By most all definitions Cook is a wealthy man, but he's not yet a billionaire. His base salary at Apple is $1.75 million and his net worth is roughly $120 million based on his Apple stock holdings. He also has restricted stock holdings that if fully vested could be worth about $665 million.

Since becoming Apple CEO in 2011, Cook has differed from his predecessor, Steve Jobs, on charitable giving. Jobs was not known for philanthropy and had even said he opposed giving away money. Cook, on the other hand, gives his employees hefty discounts on Apple products and also instituted a companywide charitable program that matches donations made by employees up to $10,000 a year. Cook also donated $50 million to Stanford's hospitals and another $50 million to disease prevention charity Product RED in 2012.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.