Last Updated: June 19, 2024
Richest BusinessRichest Billionaires
Net Worth:
$15 Billion
Mar 29, 1951 (73 years old)
Professor, investor
💰 Compare David Cheriton's Net Worth

What is David Cheriton's net worth?

David Cheriton is a Canadian computer scientist, Stanford professor, billionaire, philanthropist and venture capitalist investor. David Cheriton has a net worth of $15 billion. Depending on Google's stock price, at various points in history David has been one of the 150 richest people in the world.

David earned his first massive fortune as one of the first investors in what became Google. In the late 1990s, David and a former student named Andy Bechtolsheim were lucky/smart enough to be asked to be the very first investors in Google. Andy and David each gave grad students – Larry Page and Sergey Brin – a check for $100,000 ($200,000 total) in 1998 to help them get their search engine project off the ground. David is the richest college professor in the world. And despite being worth billions, he is still an active professor in a non-teaching role at Stanford. Andy and David were also the co-founders Ethernet company Granite Systems which was acquired by Cisco for $220 million a year after being founded. The are also the co-founders of the publicly-traded network technology company Arista Networks.

Early Life

David Ross Cheriton was born on March 29, 1951 in Vancouver, British Columbia. For college he initially enrolled in the University of Alberta with the intention of studying music. Unfortunately he was rejected by the school's music department.

David left the University of Alberta, changed his focus to mathematics and eventually earned an undergraduate degree from the University of British Columbia in 1973.

Teaching Career

David then earned a Master of Science and Ph.D. in computer science at the University of Waterloo, graduating in 1978. Upon graduating he spent three years as an assistant professor back at the University of British Columbia before landing a position at Stanford University where he would teach computer science.

While at Stanford, in the early 1980s David led a team called the Distributed Systems Group that developed a microkernal operating system which they called "V." The V operating system would have notable impacts on a number of future tech innovations like the Graphical User Interface and the Internet Protocol layer.

While at Stanford David taught a brilliant young Ph.D. student named Andy Bechtolsheim. One of Andy's hobby projects was a workstation computer which he called "the SUN", an abbreviation for Stanford University Network. In 1982 Andy left Stanford and founded Sun Microsystems. Sun Microsystems went public in 1986. By 1998 it was generating over $1 billion in annual revenue.  Decades later Sun was acquired by Oracle for $7.4 billion.

Granite Systems

In 1995 Andy left Sun and co-founded an Ethernet networking company with David Cheriton. Their company, Granite Systems, was acquired by Cisco just one year later for $220 million. As 60% owner, Andy earned $132 million. As 10% owner, David – the humble college professor – received a pre-tax payout of $22 million.

Google Investment

One day in 1998, a pair of Stanford Ph.D. students named Larry Page and Sergey Brin met up with David Cheriton and Andy Bechtolsheim on David's front porch.

Brin and Page had an idea for a project they wanted to call "Google". After a 10 minute pitch, Bechtolsheim wrote them a check for $100,000 on the spot. Cheriton decided to match it, writing his own check for $100,000.

Those two checks would eventually earn David and Andy billions.

Photo by Martin Klimek

Other Investments and Arista

Even after hitting the biggest grand slam investment arguably in VC history, David and Andy were not done founding and investing in companies.

David was an early investor in VMware before it was acquired by EMC for $625 million in 2004. He was an investor in a data warehouse company called Aster Data Systems which was acquired in 2011 for $263 million.

In 2001 David and Andy teamed up again to found a streaming video server called Kealia. Kealia was eventually acquired by Sun Microsystems in 2004.

In 2004 David and Andy co-founded network technology company Arista Networks. Arista went public in 2014 and today has a market cap of roughly $30 billion.

Personal Life

Despite being worth billions, David is known for leading a frugal lifestyle. When asked, he described buying a Honda Odyssey as his biggest splurge.

David was married to Iris Fraser from 1980 to 1994. They had four children together.

In November 2005 he donated $25 million to the University of Waterloo. The school subsequently renamed its school of computer science the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science. He has also donated millions to the University of British Columbia.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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