You could say Marissa Mayer has a habit of frivolous spending. The Yahoo! CEO recently purchased a $33,000, two-story playhouse for her son, who is less than a year old. The structure is a replica of a local Palo Alto shop for milkshakes and other sweet treats. She not only spoils her son, but has reportedly indulged in high-profile décor for her home, shelled out big bucks for designer brands such as Oscar de la Renta, and even reportedly paid $60,000 to have lunch with the designer himself. Mayer’s $300 million net worth places her in the upper echelon of the nation's 1%, whose average income is $717,000.
Mayer is generously compensated and able to spend her hard earned money on whatever she pleases, as she should be, but there is something to be said for living modestly. Yes, there are others in the tech industry like her who pamper themselves and pay big money for their hobbies (Sean Parker and Larry Ellison, for example), but this is a small cohort of people. One notable difference between the top 1% of the tech elite, and the wealthiest people in many other industries, is that many tech leaders are reinvesting their resources back into the industry and spending generously on notable causes. Marissa Meyer, at least publicly, does not rank amongst them.
Bill Gates is the poster boy for generous living. He has devoted the better half of his career to lifting marginalized populations out of poverty through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and, along with Warren Buffett, participates in the Giving Pledge — an effort by the top 1% to donate over half over their net worth to charity. Bill Gates and Sergey Brin are both investing resources into the energy sector. Brin recently received attention for his investment in the test tube burger, which would help to alleviate resource scarcity and agricultural insecurity. Jeff Bezos has recently been in the spotlight for investing a small fraction of his personal wealth into reviving the Washington Post and taking it into a new digital age.
The overall trend we are beginning to see among the top 1% is no longer this lavish spending on personal items and experiences, but rather investments that have a far greater impact beyond just the individual investor. While Marissa Mayer has the ability to spend her resources as she pleases, it’s interesting to see what her priorities are — especially since she is in the process of overhauling Yahoo! by acquiring various start-ups to catch up with other tech companies. Perhaps it’s time she also paid attention to the importance of personal wealth and its impact.