David Koch

DEFINITION of 'David Koch'

Born in 1940 in Wichita, Kansas, where he grew up, David Koch is co-owner of Koch Industries with his older brother Charles. Forbes named David Koch one of the world’s wealthiest billionaires (tied with his brother) in 2014 with an estimated net worth of $41.4 billion. Like his brother, he owns 42% of the company, according to Bloomberg.


Koch earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), to which he has since been a major donor. After graduation, he worked as an engineer for Amicon Corp. and later Arthur D. Little in Cambridge, Massachusetts, then moved to New York City to work for Halcon International. In 1970, he joined Koch Industries, a Wichita-based company that owns companies in refining, chemicals and biofuels; forest and consumer products; fertilizers; polymers and fibers; process and pollution control equipment and technologies; electronic components; commodity trading; minerals; energy; ranching; glass; and investments. He is currently executive vice president and director of Koch Industries and chairman and CEO of subsidiary Koch Chemical Technology Group.

The popular media often portray David Koch and his older brother, David Koch, as evil billionaires. However, Koch, his brother, their foundations and companies have together donated nearly $1 billion to charitable causes, especially cancer research, as well as medical centers, education, the arts and public policy. Koch serves on more than 20 boards of nonprofit organizations, including New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. He served on the National Cancer Advisory Board of the National Cancer Institute from 2005 to 2010 and has received a number of awards for his corporate leadership, support of biomedical research, philanthropy and corporate citizenship.

Koch has also been a director of the libertarian public policy organizations - the Cato Institute and Reason Foundation. He is also a trustee of the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization, and a director of the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He has survived both prostate cancer and a plane crash. Koch lives in New York City with wife Julia and their three children.