Yuri Milner (left) and Mark Zuckerberg at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Mountain View, Nov. 2019. (STEVE JENNINGS/GETTY IMAGES for BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE)
Yuri Milner (left) and Mark Zuckerberg at the Breakthrough Prize ceremony in Mountain View, Nov. 2019. (STEVE JENNINGS/GETTY IMAGES for BREAKTHROUGH PRIZE)

Local tech titan Yuri Milner donates $3 million to Israel’s virus response

Bay Area billionaire technology investor Yuri Milner announced that his foundation was donating $3 million to three Israeli institutions for the battle against the coronavirus.

The Russian-born Milner is Jewish and has Israeli citizenship. In a statement he said the gifts were “an investment in the present and the future.”

The Milner Foundation, founded by Milner and his wife, Julia, recently donated the funds to Israeli institutions battling the global pandemic, according to a March 24 press release from Tel Aviv University: Magen David Adom; Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine and George S. Wise Life Sciences; and Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center, Ichilov Hospital.

The gift to Magen David Adom, Israel’s national emergency medical organization, was earmarked for a telemedicine project that aims to reduce the number of people visiting Israeli hospitals, according to the release. The gift to Tel Aviv University was for research on treatments for the virus. The gift to Ichilov Hospital would be put toward its intensive-care unit treating Covid-19 patients.

“In the face of global threats like this, science, technology and innovation are our best hopes,” Milner said.

Raised in Moscow and now living on the Peninsula, Milner, 58, was an early investor in Facebook. More than a decade ago, he spent $200 million to acquire a 2 percent share in the social media giant through his investment fund Digital Sky Technologies. He also has shares in companies including Spotify, Airbnb and Alibaba, and he invested $400 million in Twitter nine years ago.

In 2011 Wired magazine called Milner “the world’s most successful investor in social media.”

That same year he made headlines when he purchased a $100 million estate in Los Altos Hills; at the time it was believed to be the most expensive single-family home purchase in U.S. history.

Magen David Adom’s director, Gen. Eli Bin, said in a statement that Milner’s gift would help “keep hundreds of thousands of Israelis out of hospitals” each year.

Tel Aviv University president Ariel Porat said his institution would “do everything in our ability to justify the confidence given to us. Through our first-rate researchers, we will contribute our part in this world war of a type that we have never known before.”

Gabe Stutman
Gabe Stutman

Gabe Stutman is the news editor of J. Follow him on Twitter @jnewsgabe.