Silicon Valley philanthropist John Arrillaga ’60 dies at 84

Jan. 25, 2022, 12:04 a.m.

John Arrillaga ’60, a Silicon Valley real estate developer and Stanford donor, has died at the age of 84, his family announced on Monday. 

Arrillaga attended Stanford as an undergraduate on a basketball scholarship and donated more than $300 million throughout his lifetime to the University after a successful career as one of the top real estate moguls in Silicon Valley.

He has left a physical footprint and legacy at Stanford, gifting a number of buildings on campus, including the Arrillaga Family Sports Center, the Frances Arrillaga Alumni Center and the Arrillaga Family Dining Commons. 

His passing was confirmed by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen, who tweeted, “RIP my father-in-law and hero John Arrillaga, 1937-2022,” on Monday. “Arrillaga passed away peacefully…being held by his loving wife, Gioia, and his two loving children, John Jr. and Laura,” wrote his daughter Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen ’92 M.B.A. ’97 M.Ed. ’98.  

“Our community mourns the loss of John Arrillaga, whose extraordinary generosity has had a profound impact on our university for more than half a century,” University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote in a statement to The Daily.

Born in Inglewood, Calif., Arrillaga hailed from a working-class family and majored in geography as an undergraduate, according to an obituary his family posted on Monday. While at Stanford, Arrillaga was the team captain of the men’s basketball team and an All-American basketball player. He also worked six part-time jobs to support himself financially, according to the obituary. With top grades in the geography program, he was also involved in Greek life on campus as part of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity.

In the 1960s, he and business partner Richard Peery purchased farmland in the area south of San Francisco — what is now Silicon Valley. Arrillaga and Peery converted more than 20 million square feet of land into campuses and offices for emerging tech giants like Google, Intel and Apple. Through his real estate development acumen, Arrillaga accumulated a net worth of approximately $2.5 billion, ranking among the 400 richest people in America in 2020, according to Forbes

As part of his philanthropy work, Arrillaga was a longtime supporter of Stanford, contributing donations and endowed scholarships. Throughout his life, he donated more than $300 million to the University, including a $55 million donation to the School of Medicine in 2020 and a gift of $150 million in 2013 which was, at the time, the single largest donation Stanford had ever received from a living individual.

“John’s support has been life-changing for countless Stanford students,” Tessier-Lavigne wrote. “He has also transformed our physical campus—his deep philanthropic support matched only by the gift of his time and his expertise in architecture, construction, and more.”

Tessier-Lavigne added that he “will personally miss John’s dry wit and sense of fun” and that he is “deeply grateful for his remarkable vision and commitment to Stanford, which will be felt for generations to come.”

This article has been updated to include comment from Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne.

Cassidy Dalva '25 is a News Managing Editor at The Stanford Daily. A prospective economics major from Los Angeles, California, Cassidy enjoys baking, playing pickleball, and spending time outdoors in her free time. Contact her at [email protected]

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