Category Archives: Causes

Cyan BanisterCaring for one’s community is an important principle in our everyday life. Most people probably associate it with their neighborhoods, their friends, family, culture, etc. But in the tech industry and in social media, the community holds a more virtual and larger meaning. Everyone is in the same community. People on Twitter are part of this so-called Twitterverse and the same can be said for folks on Flickr, Facebook, Foursquare, and even on enterprise services like Salesforce, Yammer, etc. There’s a reason why we have new career positions opening up in companies called Community Management–because people need to know that they’re being taken care of and that the community is being fostered and maintained.

But sometimes, when you’re thinking that what you’re doing doesn’t affect your community, the community organizer can find ways to surprise you and show that you’re appreciated. Take a look at this new video interview with Cyan Banister, angel investor and founder/CEO of Zivity, conducted by NBC Bay Area News last night. This is the CEO of a popular mature and artistic fan interaction platform and she just did something most CEOs probably wouldn’t do…she helped a total stranger in Aurora, CO pay her medical bills. Why? Simply because she was part of the Zivity community.

Pray for Aurora, COIt’s been just under a week since that unfortunate Friday morning in the town of Aurora, CO and we’re not really sure what happened. Yes, we know that a mad man took the lives of dozens of innocent people who wanted to do nothing more than sit in a theatre and watch the premiere of the most-anticipated movie of the summer, The Dark Knight Rises. And in an instant, that all changed and now it’s up to us to help that community heal and come back stronger than ever. It won’t be easy, as many lives were shattered and changed, but there are some things that we can do to help things get a little better.

One of those things is financial support for the victims and families. As with all tragedies, recuperation and medical bills will be especially difficult to overcome and no one needs the added stress to compound their grief and suffering at this difficult time. Already there are some hospitals in the Colorado community that have already begun to help alleviate this anguish, but more can be done. And when I read stories like this where you read about the life of one of the victims being unable to pay her medical bills because she’s penniless, your heart reaches out for them. So what can we, the community, do to help these people heal? Follow the example of HopeMob and just give what you can.

My Cupcake TruckSilicon Valley sure has a lot of food trucks rolling around the area. Whether it’s Korean BBQ, Vietnamese, burgers, local cuisine, Asian, Italian, or anything else, there’s going to be something for everyone. Chances are that you’ve probably ventured around town and stumbled upon one of these popular mobile restaurants and picked up something to eat. Well, while it’s great that there’s more entree-style food choices for people to select, there’s one thing that sometimes you just want to crave: dessert.

Now, okay…so there are some dessert street vendors, but not that many–and after eating all those appetizers, burgers, noodles, and other assorted meals from the main vendors, shouldn’t you just take it easy and decide to go for something sweet and good? Hey, what about cupcakes? Well, there’s not a popular street vendor that just serves cupcakes. I suppose you could go to Safeway and pick up some day-old cupcakes to eat, but that’s just that fun. And cupcake stores aren’t that close to most of us. So what are we to do?

Facebook CEO/Founder Mark Zuckerberg
Don’t be evil — that’s Google’s unofficial motto. But while some companies may take that motto to simply mean “don’t do anything bad”, some might argue that rather than being passive about avoiding evil, companies should actually be more active in combating evil and doing more good. For Facebook, doing good and giving back seems to be very much in part of their effort to give back to the world. Sure, their service allows people to connect themselves with others from around the world, but there’s always more that can be done and one might suggest that Facebook has strived to be good global corporate neighbors. Just take a look at recent events to gain a glimpse at what the power of Facebook has had over our lives–the service has helped directly/indirectly shake the foundation of some of the most totalitarian regimes across the Middle East during the famous Arab Spring event. And Facebook’s founder & CEO Mark Zuckerberg, has not made it a secret that he intends to donate some of his wealth to charity, having signed onto billionaire Bill Gates & Warren Buffet’s “Giving Pledge”. And in 2010, Mr. Zuckerberg famously went on the Oprah Winfrey Show and announced that he was giving $100 million to the Newark Public School System as part of his effort to help Mayor Cory Booker revive the struggling education system.

Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg have clearly been corporate model citizens helping to illustrate that companies can do good for the public and that more can be done instead of simply pledging never to be evil–there are other philanthropy efforts that need corporate help and it seems that Facebook is leading the way.

Andreessen HorowitzWho says that Silicon Valley doesn’t give back? In a huge act of generosity by one of the leading venture capital firms in the San Francisco Bay Area and most likely the technology industry, powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz announced earlier this week that the six General Partners are all committing to donate at least half of the income from their respective venture capital careers to philanthropic causes. While you might be thinking that this is just something cool and nice of VCs to do, think about how much this can represent to any number of non-profit organizations who would will benefit from this enormous act of kindness. For those who do know venture capitalists, the amount of money that just the partners could stand to get as a result of any number of acquisitions or exits from their portfolio companies can be enormous–more so now simply because in this situation, it’s the firm of Andreessen Horowitz.

As CNN Money reports, here’s how this “bold philanthropic pledge” will work:

Each of Andreessen Horowitz’s six general partners — Marc Andreessen, Ben Horowitz, Jeff Jordan, Peter Levine, Jon O’Farrell and Scott Weiss — will donate at least half of all management fee and carried interest income they earn for the rest of their venture capital careers. It is up to each individual partner to determine where the money goes.

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