If you don’t live here, you probably don’t realize a lot of the extremes that exist in the Silicon Valley. In my last year (my first year), in the Bay area, it has been nothing if not a culture shock for me.
Regular people working for tech firms, just trying to get by. Students, grabbed right out of college, pulled into startups or excellent jobs at Google, and making the “big bucks” because they don’t yet have “real” expenses.
The uber-rich of local Valley neighborhoods (I live at the intersection between two of those neighborhoods and routinely follow Ferraris onto the highway ramp) who exist right along with the rest of us.
Then I go to the Stanford Shopping Centre and I see, as I wait to turn left, the homeless and homeless vets who are routinely on the corner of El Camino and Sand Hill Road (Sand Hill, where there is more venture capital money than you can imagine), and I wonder who is helping those people. When I actually have cash, I’ll often give it to these guys. Maybe I’m just a sucker, but the image in my mind, of these homeless people surrounded by all this excess in the Valley – well, it bothers me.
Because of that, I like to hear when something good and charitable happens around here. That it’s not just about sportscars and high-end fashion. On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook (who is only 28 years old) announced he would donate nearly $500 million in company stock to a local charity called Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The SVCF is a charity that works with donors and other charities to allocate their money, offer grants, and help charities with programs like marketing and fundraising. Zuckerberg’s donation is earmarked for health and education issues.
In recent years, Zuckerberg pledged $100 million in stock to Newark public schools and joined with Bill Gates in the Giving Pledge, which asks the wealthiest amongst us to donate most of their wealth. (Really, how many Teslas do you need anyway?)
You can read Zuckerberg’s Facebook pledge here. And really, it gives me a little faith to know that despite the extremes of wealth and poverty in the Valley, some people really are using their money to help.