David Duffield 101: American Billionaire Businessman
Zatrun Published at September 27, 2023

In this article titled “Who is David Duffield 101: American Billionaire Businessman?” on, we will delve into everything you need to know in detail about David Duffield, the American billionaire businessman who our readers are curious about.

Who is David Duffield?

David Arthur Duffield, an American billionaire businessman in the software industry, was born on September 21, 1940. He is the co-founder and former chairman of PeopleSoft, co-founder and retired chairman of Workday, Inc., and currently the founder and CEO of Ridgeline Inc. He has been listed on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list for many years.

David Duffield

David Duffield founded two publicly traded enterprise software companies, PeopleSoft and Workday, after the age of 40. As of June 2019, he donated $345 million to Maddie’s Fund and $400 million to Cornell, among others, including his alma mater. Currently, their philanthropic activities are managed by the Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation. Their flagship project is Liberty Dogs, a service dog training camp located in Reno, Nevada. This facility will match and train service dogs with veterans. It is scheduled to open in 2026.

Growing up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, Duffield graduated from Ridgewood High School, located nearby in Ridgewood, in 1958, where he was the captain of the baseball team. Duffield received his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and MBA degree from Cornell University and is a supporter of the Duffield Hall, a facility for nanoscale science (or nanotechnology) and engineering at Cornell. While at Cornell, Duffield was a member of Beta Theta Pi.

Career Life

In 1964, David Duffield started his career as a marketing representative and system engineer at IBM. He left IBM to establish Information Associates, which developed university exam planning software. In 1972, he left to establish Integral Systems, which eventually became a top-tier vendor of Human Resources Management Systems. In 1979, he moved on to establish Business Software Corporation, which provided real-time human resources and payroll applications for commercial enterprises.


In 1987, David Duffield founded PeopleSoft and served as its CEO and Chairman of the Board. PeopleSoft became the world’s second-largest application software company before it was acquired by Oracle for $10.7 billion in cash in January 2005.


In March 2005, David Duffield and former PeopleSoft Vice President and Product Strategy Officer, Aneel Bhusri, launched Workday, Inc., a company that provides financial management, human capital management, and planning software. The company, which is offered as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model, is headquartered in Pleasanton, California, and employed 15,200 people at the beginning of 2022. Duffield was known as the company’s chief customer and employee advocate. He stepped down from his Co-CEO role in May 2014 and became the Chairman of the Board. In April 2021, he was appointed Emeritus Chairman by Workday’s Board of Directors and resigned as Chairman of the Board.


David Duffield founded his current company, Ridgeline, in 2017. Based in Incline Village, Nevada, Ridgeline is a unified cloud software platform for investment management. As an early-stage company, Ridgeline currently employs around 350 people in its offices in Incline Village, Reno, New York City, and San Ramon, California.

Maddie’s Fund

In 1994, David Duffield and his wife Cheryl founded Maddie’s Fund, initially named the Duffield Family Foundation. The foundation bears the name of Miniature Schnauzer Maddie, who was a “lighthouse” during the “stormy period” of the Duffields’ business lives. Maddie died of cancer in 1997, and Duffield, true to his promise to his pet, said, “If we ever make any money, I promise to give it back to you and animals like you so that others can be as happy as we are today.” The Duffields donated over $300 million to Maddie’s Fund, and the money has been spent on animal welfare, totaling more than $265 million through the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation

The Duffields established the Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation in 2016 to continue making innovative donations to animal welfare, supporting military veterans, and education. Based in Incline Village, Nevada, the foundation supported animal welfare agencies, pet shelters, and regional community organizations, including Boys and Girls Clubs and local parks.

In April 2020, the Duffield Foundation donated $350,000 to the Incline Village Community Hospital to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the 2021 Lake Tahoe forest fires, the foundation donated $4 million to more than 30 charities, including $2 million to the Red Cross.

Liberty Dogs

The Dave & Cheryl Duffield Foundation is financing the construction and development of Liberty Dogs in Reno, Nevada. The campus is scheduled to open in 2026. The aim is to provide military personnel with greater independence and satisfaction by providing advanced emotional and psychological well-being through a Liberty Service Dog, as research has shown.

Cornell University

In January 1997, the Duffields donated $20 million to Cornell University to support interdisciplinary engineering and scientific research and education. The new engineering building was later renamed “Duffield Hall.”

In July 2020, the Duffields donated $5 million to establish the Duffield Family Cornell Promise Scholarship. The gift was the largest single donation to the Cornell Promise Initiative, which provides financial support to students and families facing challenges resulting from the pandemic. In early 2022, the Duffields donated $12.1 million to establish the Duffield Institute for Animal Behavior at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.


  • 1998 American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award
  • Recipient of the 2013 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Award
  • 2018 Cornell Engineering Distinguished Alumni Award – the highest graduation honour.

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