Google Chief Philanthropic Officer Dr. Larry Brilliant is resigning his position to become president of the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, a $100 million endeavor founded by former eBay President Jeff Skoll to tackle major issues such as climate change, nuclear proliferation, Middle East conflict and water scarcity.
The Urgent Threats Fund, as conceived by Skoll, will fund initiatives tackling these and other major issues. Skoll already bankrolls social entrepreneurs dealing with major issues through his Skoll Foundation, in addition to producing films such as “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Fast Food Nation.”
Along with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, backers of Tesla Motors, Skoll has pumped money into building the next generation of electric cars.
Before becoming “Chief Philanthropic Evangelist” for Google, Brilliant had spent nearly three years as the executive director of Google.org, the search-engine giant’s philanthropic arm.
Brilliant took pains not to burn any bridges before his May 5 departure, citing the previous collaboration between Google.org and the Skoll Foundation in supporting “virus hunter” Nathan Wolfe’s Global Viral Forecasting Initiative.
“I’ll continue to work with Megan and the Google.org team as an advisor,” Brilliant wrote in an April 14 posting on the official Google.org blog.
“These two organizations are neither competitors nor strangers, but rather friends and colleagues,” he added. “I am not ‘leaving Google’ so much as I’m going down the road to work with a friend and colleague and I hope that in the coming months and years we can expand that relationship even more.”
In addition to heading the Skoll Urgent Threats Fund, Brilliant will sit on the board of the Skoll Foundation and assume the role of senior adviser to Skoll “on his media and financial investments companies.”
So far in 2009, Google has announced a number of initiatives designed to “give back” while positioning the company at the nexus of hot-button issues.
In March 2009, Google CEO Eric Schmidt pushed a national energy plan designed to cut greenhouse gas emissions nearly in half by 2030. Google claims that it invested over $45 million in renewable-energy startup companies in 2008.
Besides investments through Google.org, Google recently started Google Ventures, a venture capital fund that will focus on funding startups in bio-tech, health care and other areas.