Michael Moritz 101: Venture Capitalist & Philanthropist
Zatrun Published at June 20, 2024

Michael Moritz is a name synonymous with venture capitalism, philanthropy, and a profound impact on the tech industry. takes a closer look at the extraordinary journey of this Welsh-born American billionaire, highlighting his significant contributions to both the business world and charitable causes.

Early Days in Cardiff

Born on September 12, 1954, in Cardiff, Wales, Michael Moritz’s life journey began against the backdrop of a family with a history of resilience. His father, Ludwig Alfred Moritz, a German Jew, and his mother, Doris Rath, both fled Nazi Germany. His father’s academic career as a Classics professor at Cardiff University and later as its Vice Principal served as an inspiration for academic excellence. Michael Moritz’s early education at Howardian High School in Cardiff set the stage for his future endeavors.

Michael Moritz’s academic journey took him to Christ Church, Oxford, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in history. He continued his pursuit of knowledge by obtaining an MBA from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania as a Thouron scholar. These formative years laid the foundation for his future achievements.

From Journalist to Venture Capitalist

Michael Moritz embarked on his career as a journalist, contributing to various publications. However, it was in the early 1980s that he had a pivotal encounter with Steve Jobs while working as a reporter for Time magazine. Jobs enlisted Moritz to document the development of the Macintosh computer for a book he was writing. Given his close age proximity to the Macintosh development team, Moritz was the ideal choice to chronicle this groundbreaking project.

By late 1982, Moritz had become Time’s San Francisco Bureau Chief, working on a special Time Person of the Year issue initially dedicated to Jobs. However, his research led to significant revelations, including interviews with Jobs’ high school girlfriend, Chrisann Brennan, and the denial of paternity by Jobs. The final issue celebrated “The Computer” as the Man of the Year, making Moritz’s role instrumental in documenting this technological revolution.

In 2009, Moritz revisited the world of Apple and Steve Jobs, publishing a revised and expanded follow-up to “The Little Kingdom” titled “Return to the Little Kingdom: How Apple and Steve Jobs Changed the World.”

Contributions to the Tech World

Michael Moritz’s career took a significant turn when he joined Sequoia Capital in 1986. His investments in companies like Google, Yahoo!, PayPal, YouTube, and many others solidified his reputation as a top dealmaker in the technology industry. Moritz’s collaboration with John Doerr, a rival venture capitalist from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, in Google’s initial public offering in 2004 marked a milestone, and Moritz became one of Wales’ wealthiest individuals.

In 2023, after almost four decades at Sequoia, Moritz decided to step down from his role. While he continues to serve on the boards of Stripe, Klarna, and Instacart, Sequoia announced that these positions would be gradually replaced over time. Moritz revealed his plans to focus on Sequoia Heritage, an independent wealth-management fund he helped launch.

The San Francisco Standard

Moritz’s influence extends beyond venture capitalism. He founded the for-profit news website, the San Francisco Standard, based in the Mission District. This venture aims to deliver San Francisco-centric news through various social media platforms. Griffin Gaffney serves as the CEO of the SF Standard, and Moritz’s support has also extended to non-profit organizations like Here/Say Media and TogetherSF.

Michael Moritz’s contributions have not gone unnoticed. He received an honorary fellowship from Cardiff University in 2010. His honor as a fellow of Aberystwyth University followed in 2014, and he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology in 2014. Notably, in 2013, Moritz was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) for his services in promoting British economic interests and philanthropy.

Michael Moritz’s Personal Life

Moritz resides in San Francisco with his wife, American novelist Harriet Heyman, and their two children. He has also been actively involved in supporting philanthropic causes and making substantial donations.

As a signatory of The Giving Pledge, Moritz has committed to donating at least 50% of his wealth to charitable causes. His philanthropic endeavors include significant contributions to educational institutions. He donated $50 million to Christ Church, his Oxford college, in 2008, and contributed £75 million to Oxford University in 2012, providing scholarships to students from families with limited income.

His generosity extended to the Juilliard School’s Music Advancement Program, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and the University of Chicago (UC), benefiting students and educational programs.

In 2018, Moritz made a substantial donation of $20 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), marking the largest donation the organization had received. In 2019, Moritz and his wife’s charity, Crankstart, began sponsoring the Booker Prize for novelists for the next five years, with the couple preferring to keep the charity’s name separate from

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