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Sergey Brin offers $1 million to charity -- if tech titans match

The Google co-founder and his wife will donate the money to the Tipping Point Community if the nonprofit serving the poor of Northern California gets matching funds from other techies.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin James Martin/CNET

Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife, 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki, have committed to giving $1 million to a Bay Area charity, but only if the organization can get other Silicon Valley titans to pony up another million.

In an interview with CNET last week, Tipping Point Community CEO Daniel Lurie, whose charity distributes donations to dozens of nonprofits throughout the San Francisco Bay Area, said that Brin and Wojcicki have agreed to the gift, assuming Tipping Point can find matching funds from others in the technology world.

Lurie said that Brin and Wojcicki have been long-time supporters of Tipping Point, and that this gift would mark the third time the two have contributed $1 million to the organization. But it's the first time they've added the matching condition.

The official announcement of the donation is set to be made at Tipping Point's annual dinner on May 10, an event which raised $6.6 million last year, fully 50 percent of its 2011 contributions. Neither Brin nor Wojcicki were made available to comment for this article.

Tipping Point Community, which features board members including San Francisco 49ers president Jed York, is a San Francisco-based charitable organization that prides itself on passing on 100 percent of all contributions to the nonprofits it supports. That's possible, it says, because its board underwrites all its administrative and other costs. Since 2005, the charity has has raised in excess of $40 million to help with the educational, employment, and housing needs of 160,000 needy Bay Area residents.

Lurie said that the charity has been in talks about the new donation with Brin and Wojcicki for six months. And while the two technology notables have linked their contribution to matching funds from others in Silicon Valley, the money is expected to be part of a $3 million total gift requiring matching funds, with the other $2 million coming from New York hedge fund manager Stan Druckenmiller and his wife Fiona, and investment banker Charles Schwab and his wife Helen. The Druckenmillers' and Schwabs' gifts require only that their donations be matched, but don't mandate the type of people who participate.

If all three matching conditions are met, Tipping Point will have $6 million in new funds to distribute.

Asked why Brin and Wojcicki wanted to link their gift to others in the tech community, Lurie -- making clear he wasn't speaking for the two -- said, "I think they're looking for leverage. I think they're committed to the Bay Area community...They've been supportive of Tipping Point for a number of years. And they want to help us spread the word. In talking with other Silicon Valley leaders, I think people are wanting to be involved."

Lurie said the Brin and Wojcicki contribution is just the latest sign that Silicon Valley's luminaries want to help the less fortunate, pointing to the announcement last week that the partners at leading VC firm Andreessen Horowitz will be gifting at least half of their venture-related earnings, as well as other news that heavyweights like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Warren Buffett have committed to giving away at least half of their fortunes.