One of Silicon Valley's most prominent landowners today, John Arrillaga amassed his fortune through his real estate business. The low-key (yet legendary) mogul began his career over six decades ago. After college, Arrillaga partnered with Richard "Dick" Peery, buying farmland in the South San Francisco Bay Area of California during the 1960s and later turning it into office parks. After the area became a global center of technological innovation, Arrillaga was considered to be an unrivaled landowner in Silicon Valley. Current tenants include Google and Intuit. In 2006, his firm sold about half of its commercial real estate portfolio for a whopping $1.1 billion. In 2020, Arrillaga was ranked No. 339 on the Forbes 400 list of the richest people in America, with a net worth estimated to be around $2.5 billion.
A native to California, Arrillaga graduated high school in 1955 and enrolled at Stanford University on a basketball scholarship. Considered to be as bright as he was athletic, Arrillaga's scholarship did not cover living expenses, so while meeting his basketball and academic requirements, he held six part-time jobs while at Stanford. These included washing dishes, delivering mail, and even working as a gardener. Meanwhile, he achieved stellar grades in his major and became an All-American basketball player. For his senior year, he was a first-team All-AAWU selection. He was also a member of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity. In 1960, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in geography—a degree which is no longer offered at Stanford.
A longtime Stanford supporter, Arrillaga's fingerprints can be seen all over campus. In 2013, the billionaire real estate mogul wrote the University a $150 million check, which was the single largest donation from a living individual. The generous gift was just the latest in a long line of extraordinary contributions to Stanford. Notably, the Arrillaga family name graces many buildings across the campus, and Arrillaga has played a key role in the development of many other campus projects. In addition, the Arrillaga family's endowed scholarships support nearly 50 Stanford students each year. More recently, in 2020, Arrillaga pledged another $55 million to the Stanford University School of Medicine, a move that brings his total donations past the $300 million mark. Through hard work, talent, and the Stanford community, Arrillaga has transformed from a recipient of financial aid into one of the biggest benefactors in Stanford's history.