While some tech executives are quick to splurge on yachts and mega-mansions, others aren’t so flashy with their riches.
Biz Stone, for example, says he’s too embarrassed to drive anything more flashy than a dented Volkswagen Golf, while Sergey Brin likes to buy things in bulk at Costco.
We’ve rounded up 11 tech executives who have made millions or even billions with their companies yet have chosen lives of frugality and charity.
David Cheriton, Stanford professor
Net worth: $2.9 billion
Cheriton, a professor at Stanford and cofounder of Arista Networks, became one of the first investors in Google after Larry Page and Sergey Brin did a demo of their project on his front porch in 1998. That initial $100,000 check has obviously paid off, but Cheriton dislikes the thought of being a billionaire.
“I’m actually quite offended by that sort of thing,” he told the Edmonton Journal in a 2006 interview. “These people who build houses with 13 bathrooms and so on, there’s something wrong with them.”
He drives a 1986 Volkswagen Vanagon, has lived in the same Palo Alto home for the past 30 years, cuts his own hair, and even claims to reuse his tea bags. He did, however, splurge on a Honda Odyssey for his kids back in 2012.
Charlie Ergen, founder and CEO of Dish Network
Net worth: $17.8 billion
Ergen is notorious for being a frugal leader and micromanager — up until about 10 years ago, he insisted on signing every check that came out of Dish.
He packs a lunch of a sandwich and Gatorade before work every day, and until recently, he shared hotel rooms with colleagues during travel.
“My mom grew up in the Depression,” he told the Financial Times. “I don’t have a mahogany desk.”
Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba
Net worth: $22.8 billion
Ma is one of the wealthiest men in China, but he’s made few splurge purchases and prefers to keep his personal life out of the spotlight. Ma grew up poor in communist China, failed his college entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs.
Even though he has become a bit of a celebrity in China, he still enjoys quiet meditation in the mountains and playing poker with friends.
“Ma Yun’s lifestyle is very simple and modest. His hobbies are still tai chi and kung fu novels,” Chen, his friend and assistant, said to USA Today. “I don’t think he has changed much, he is still that old style.”