Yuri Milner is a technology investor and science philanthropist.
Born in 1961, he was named after Yuri Gagarin, who earlier that year had become the first human to reach space — a moment of deep significance for humanity that would form part of the inspiration for this book.
Yuri began his career as a theoretical physicist working in quantum field theory, but later changed fields and moved to the United States to study at the Wharton School of Business. After launching and developing a successful internet start-up, he went on to found DST Global, which has become one of the world’s most successful internet investment companies. Its portfolio has included some of the biggest technology brands like Facebook, Twitter, Alibaba and Spotify.
A lifelong fascination with science, and a conviction that the future of humanity depends on its flourishing, led Yuri and his wife Julia to join the Giving Pledge, Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet’s initiative whose members commit to donating half their wealth in their lifetime to philanthropic causes. Yuri and Julia have focused their donations on predominantly scientific programs. In 2012 they founded the Breakthrough Prize, a major annual science award, along with their co-founders Sergei Brin, Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, and Ann Wojcicki. Three years later, Yuri partnered with Stephen Hawking to launch the Breakthrough Initiatives, a set of scientific programs searching for life and civilizations beyond our planet and developing the first practical technology for interstellar space flight. Yuri and Julia’s foundation has also supported various humanitarian causes, including medical equipment to protect against Covid-19.