Richard W. "Ric" Weiland (April 21, 1953 – June 24, 2006) was a computer software pioneer, programmer and philanthropist. He was the second employee at Microsoft Corporation, joining the company during his final year at Stanford University. At 35, he left Microsoft to focus his time on investment management and philanthropy, becoming a quiet but well-respected donor to the LGBTQ social justice movement, the environment, health & human services and education. After his death, the Chronicle of Philanthropy called Ric's bequest the 11th largest charitable gift in the nation with more than $165 million distributed between 20 nonprofit beneficiaries.
Weiland was a high school classmate and friend of Paul Allen, with whom he created the Lakeside Programmers Group at Lakeside School, a preparatory school in Seattle, Washington, United States. Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Kent Evans, and Weiland were involved with the Computer Center Corporation, using their PDP-10. They worked together to create a payroll program in COBOL for a company in Portland, Oregon; and wrote scheduling software for Lakeside School.
Allen and Gates hired Ric in 1975, the same year they founded Microsoft in Albuquerque. As one of only five employees, Weiland was a lead programmer and developer for the company's BASIC and COBOL language systems.
After a couple semesters at Harvard Business School, in 1976-77, he rejoined Microsoft and became the project leader for Microsoft Works. He was described by Allen as a "brilliant programmer" and a key contributor to the company's success.
During his life Weiland was a donor to more than 60 nonprofit organizations and distributed an estimated $21.5m primarily between 1996-2006. His largest gift was to establish an endowed chair in his mother's name at Stanford - the Martha Meier Weiland professorship in the School of Medicine. He was influential as an active member of the Northwest gay community. During his time as a volunteer on the Pride Foundation's board of directors from 1997 to 2001, he helped win the fight to get General Electric to include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy. A member of the national GLSEN board (an organization focused on supporting gay-straight alliances in schools across the country) from 2002-2005, he was a fervent supporter of programs promoting safe schools for all kids.
Ten LGBTQ/AIDS organizations benefited from a donor advised fund Weiland established through the Pride Foundation at his death. More than $56 million was distributed between 2007 and 2017 to these organizations. For most of these nonprofits it was the largest gift in their history. Beneficiaries included: Lambda Legal, GLSEN, GLAAD, amFAR, the Task Force, OutRight Action International, PFLAG, Project Inform, In the Life Media and OutServe.
Eight other estate beneficiaries received endowment gifts including United Way of King County, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children's Hospital, Lakeside School, Pride Foundation and three environmental organizations - the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund and the National Wildlife Federation. The Nature Conservancy received two direct gifts of $6.4m each - one to support programs in Washington State and another to support their global environmental work.
In 2007, Weiland's $54m gift to Stanford was called the largest bequest since the Stanford family's founding grant. 12 endowed Weiland funds have been established at the university, with a focus on supporting undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. More than 175 PhD students in more than 30 fields of study have received Weiland fellowships since the program started, making it the largest fellowship program on campus. There are also 5 endowed Weiland chairs, the Martha Meier Weiland professorship at the Stanford University School of Medicine. the William Hershel Weiland professorship in Physics honoring his father, and three Richard William Weiland chairs in the School of Engineering. Weiland funds also support the Stanford LGBTQ community through the university's first endowment to Student Affairs, undergraduate education, the School of Business, the Center for Social Innovation and the university's general endowment.
The permanent endowment funds established through Weiland's estate have a 2017 value of more than $150m and generate approximately $7.5m per year in program support. As the investment returns on these funds compound, Weiland's impact, especially in support of students will continue to grow.
Weiland committed suicide by gunshot on June 24, 2006. Besides his longstanding HIV diagnosis, he was reported to have suffered from clinical depression. Survivors include his partner, Mike Schaefer as well as 2 nieces and 2 nephews in Oregon and Washington.
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- "Cohen, Yock named to new professorships". Stanford Report. August 9, 2000.
- "$65 million bequeathed to gay rights, AIDS fight". PlanetOut. February 25, 2008. Archived from the original on February 27, 2008.
- Richard William Weiland papers, 1969-2006, Stanford Digital Repository
- "Microsoft pioneer a major benefactor, "Seattle Post-Intelligencer obituary
- "Seattle man who helped launch Microsoft left $65M for gay rights," Seattle Times obituary