UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business announced it has received the largest gift made by an alumnus under the age of 40—Kevin Chou, the 36-year-old founding CEO of mobile gaming firm Kabam, and his wife, Dr. Connie Chen, have pledged $15 million, with two potential step-ups of $5 million or $10 million at the end of five years.
In recognition of the gift, the school will name its new, state-of-the-art academic building opening later this year, seen in the above rendering, Connie & Kevin Chou Hall.
After graduating with his bachelor’s degree from Berkeley-Haas in 2002, Chou co-founded Kabam along with two fellow Berkeley alumni. Late last year, he sold the majority of Kabam’s assets to South Korea’s Netmarble Games Corp. in an $800 million deal, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Chou says it is important to him to give back to the school early in his career to inspire current and future Haas students to become entrepreneurs.
“Beyond Yourself is a principle that really resonates with me today,” says Chou, citing one of the four Haas Defining Principles. “I’m excited to be able to do this at this point in my career because I get to spend time with students and with Haas professors and other administrators, collaborating and helping them think about the new student space and the program.”
Chou is one of 176 Berkeley entrepreneurs who have signed the Berkeley Founders’ Pledge, a personal, non-binding pledge to give a portion of the value of their venture to support the university’s schools and programs, if and when they have a liquidity event.
The couple says their gift is also a testament to their support for UC Berkeley’s role in providing world-class public education to students of all backgrounds.
“We believe that diversity is so important in terms of shaping future leaders. We’re excited about bringing together students of all backgrounds—not just business students—to formulate ideas that will improve the world,” says Chen, 29, a practicing physician and co-founder of Vida Health, a venture-backed startup providing health coaching and programming.
Dean Rich Lyons calls the Chou and Chen gift transformative for Berkeley-Haas, noting that, “What makes this gift so special is that these are two people in their 30s—an extraordinary time in life to be making a commitment to an institution that Kevin says has had so much of an impact on his life. Their donation is going to have a catalytic effect on generations of donors to come.”