Editor’s Note: This piece was originally published on PandoDaily.com. It is being republished with permission.
Well, this is a different side of Yuri Milner… The famed Russian tech investor and founder of Russian Web giant Mail.ru, has launched the Milner Foundation, with the aim of doing nothing more than advancing our knowledge of the universe.
The $27 million foundation will annually award $3 million to fundamental physicists doing great work. And just let them keep doing that work. There are no expectations to be met, no commercialization that has to come out of it. Milner simply thinks it’s important that we understand the universe better than we do now. ”My background is in theoretical physics, and it’s something very close to my heart,” he said in an interview from Moscow this morning. “We, as a mankind, are not rewarding the best fundamental scientists the way we should, and this is one way to do that.”
On one hand, this development seems surprisingly impractical for a man who up to now has been like a heat-seeking missile, finding highly practical – if unconventional – new ways to upend the tech investing world. Milner has pulled off something that almost no one else has as long as I’ve been covering Silicon Valley: He came in from the outside, saw a gaping hole in a venture market that everyone thought was oversaturated with cash, and was so right that he forced many of the most powerful Valley insiders to radically change their game plan.