A thought provoking comment from the Slashsot comments:
“Google started off running on Stanford equipment, and was spun off,
as happens frequently at Stanford. Sun and Cisco also started with
Stanford people and equipment.
Stanford has become a real estate company and a venture capital firm
that runs a university on the side for the tax break. It’s working out
very well; they now have $21.6 billion in investment assets, including
a big chunk of Google. This started around 1991, when the financial
management operation was spun off as a separate company. The financial
operation invests in venture pools, which in turn fund venture
capitalists, which fund startup companies, some of which become big.
They can draw on expertise from the academic side to help evaluate
investments. It’s working quite well; annualized returns for the past
decade were 15.1%. Tax free!”