The Interview With Raj Mathai

The Interview With Raj Mathai

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The Interview: Philanthropist Tad Taube

Taube talks philanthropy, politics, and his days as a pro sports owner

By Raj Mathai, Liza Meak, and Alex Bozovic
|  Friday, Oct 4, 2013  |  Updated 7:28 PM PDT
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Tad Taube may not be a household name, but you've likely seen his name on lots of buildings. The 82-year-old millionaire is one of the most prolific philanthropists in the Bay Area. Raj Mathai reports.

Tad Taube may not be a household name, but you've likely seen his name on lots of buildings. The 82-year-old millionaire is one of the most prolific philanthropists in the Bay Area. Raj Mathai reports.

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Tad Taube may not be a household name, but you've likely seen his name on lots of buildings. The 82-year-old millionaire is one of the most prolific philanthropists in the Bay Area. 

As president of the Koret Foundation, and chairman of Taube Philanthropies, he's been responsible for donating hundreds of millions of dollars to countless causes locally and around the world.

Taube has been especially generous to his alma mater, Stanford University, with his name on no less than three buildings, including the Taube Tennis Center and the Taube Hillel House. 

"I don't think I would have settled on having it being a focus of my philanthropy if I hadn't been an alum," Taube said. "Stanford has given me an opportunity to be creative in a sense that we have contributed things to Stanford that wouldn't be there if it weren't for my philanthropy. For example, Stanford has arguably the most prestigious center for Jewish studies in the world, bar none, and I like to think that center might not be there if it weren't for our gifts."

While Taube's Jewish heritage also motivates a lot of his giving, he says he doesn't necessarily see himself as a leader in the Bay Area Jewish community because of his political views.

"The Jewish community is very liberal in the Bay Area, and I'm not a liberal, so I've got to operate at a slight deficit when it comes to that evaluation," Taube said.

It's not his politics, but his business background that keeps him from focusing on social welfare programs.

"Social service usually defines some sort of social ill, you know hunger or poverty," Taube said. "We refer to them more or less as bottomless-pit challenges. I don't think anybody has enough money to make a serious dent."

Taube made most of his money in real estate, and says he lost millions when he was the owner of the long defunct USFL team, the Oakland Invaders.

"I feel that I've paid my dues. I did what I did and it was very expensive and it was very enlightening," Taube recalled. "I mean, you can't really imagine what it's like to be the central figure in a sports team until you do it, and I've done it and I didn't really feel like I wanted to be engaged at that level again."

While he vows he'll never own a professional sports team again, he is very involved with the charitable arm of the San Francisco 49ers, partnering with them to create the Touchdown for Kids program.

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