Category Archives: Fundraising

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.

Former DC Mayor Adrian Fenty (credit: Georgetown Voice)It’s probably not that often that you’ll hear about politicians or traditionally non-tech influential leaders joining up with a company here in Silicon Valley. I mean, it’s not that it’s unheard of but it’s not very common. For politicians, typically you’re going to hear of them going to consulting firms or even lobbyists in Washington, DC. However, it looks like big-time venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz has snagged two major policy leaders within the past couple of years.

Announced today, the firm picked up the consulting services of former Washington, DC mayor Adrian Fenty. The one-time mayor of the nation’s capital will join the firm as a special advisor where he will most undoubtedly use his expertise in policy, governance, and disruption to help startups better broach the mainstream and become better recognized by the government. As stated by Margit Wennmachers on managing partner Ben Horowitz’s blog, a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, Mayor Fenty’s uncanny ability to disrupt an age-old system in the nation’s capital have given him an iconic image of being a reformer and has led him to unheard-of success. In addition, he was the first in the city to spur technological innovation by finally opening up the city’s data and encouraging developers to create useful apps that would help save the city thousands, if not millions, of dollars, and create a better District for all its citizens.

Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergOh man, where has the time gone? We’re already in the middle of August and one of the things that perhaps may have slipped some minds is that it’s already been three months since the largest tech IPO in history happened (albeit to some dismal fanfare). Since that fateful IPO by Facebook in June, not much has gone well for the company. First the company saw their stock IPO at the high of $48 per share, but ultimately it’s slipped by 40% over the past several months. Their first quarterly earnings report didn’t help them as much and the market let them know it. Sure, the company made $1.8 billion in revenue, an increase from $895 million, but according to the New York Times, not much more confidence was given moving forward. The market has continually punished the company over and over again with Facebook’s CFO, David Ebersman, saying that even he’s disappointed in how the stock was traded.

But the next test that lies ahead of Facebook isn’t their next quarterly earnings report, but rather the expiration of the requirement that prevents some shareholders from selling their stock in Facebook. By law, when a company hits the market, its insiders or those holding majority stakes are forbidden to sell any of their shares and an IPO lock-up is usually done so that the market is not flooded with too much supply of a company’s stock too quickly. Once the lock-up period ends, most trading restrictions are removed. According to the Hindu Business Times, this “lock-up” period is set to expire soon–the New York Times says it’s happening this Thursday. What happens after that? Well it seems some select shareholders will be allowed to finally sell their shares in the company. And what happens after that remains a mystery…it might be a sign of further bad news for the social network.

500 Startups Unsexy ConferenceLife as an entrepreneur might seem to be glamorous and full of parties and success, but in reality, running your own company can be quite time-consuming, strenuous, and, at times, overwhelming. But the opportunity for you to hit it big and to develop something that will solve one of the world’s problems can be quite rewarding, both spiritually and financially. If you want to understand what it’s like to be a part of the “hustle”, then read this great TechCrunch article written by PicPlum’s co-founder Paul Stamatiou, who gives a read inside look at what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. There’s definitely lots to think about when it comes to your own startup: product ideas & development, investors, user acquisition, features, strategy, and more. And while you might think that life as an entrepreneur is all glamorous and exciting, deep down, there’s lots of things you’ll need to think of–and perhaps one of the most difficult things for any startup is to find ways to make money.

But don’t let that stop you. There are plenty of resources around in Silicon Valley for you to take advantage of and learn how others have become successful. In fact, one such resource you can partake in is happening this Thursday in Mountain View. It’s called the unSEXY conference and it’s being put on by the startup incubator, 500 Startups. Here’s the deal…while there’s a lot of hoopla over those consumer verticals that you see people clamoring over, but you have no idea what their business model is, there are many other companies that aren’t in those appealing verticals that are as successful, or even more, and are vastly different than the “popular girls” in the industry–they’re making money. 

THRIVEgulu Launch PartyEveryone has a dream of where they see their life going. For many of us here in the United States, it’s something that we can see come to fruition, but for many others around the world, it’s just not possible, all for a variety of reasons. But in Africa, the problems just seem to compound one another and the odds of someone living a fulfilling life just seems so astronomical. From civil war to diseases to other forms of strife, people in this third-world continent are in need of assistance and for a chance to realize their true potential.

Well things need to change. Instead of building upon fear and concern, perhaps we should realize that our efforts should go towards helping to build up hope and their future. With respect to Africa, one such charity is going above and beyond to help promote these ideals. It’s called THRIVEGulu and just this past week launched to the world as a means of helping the people of Uganda rebuild their lives and become self-sufficient once again.

Started by actress Eliza Dushku (Bring It On, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse) and her mother, Professor Judy Dushku, THRIVEGulu is a non-profit organization operating in Uganda that focuses on building and operating a trauma healing and reflecting center in Gulu (northern Uganda). It supports the healing and rehabilitation of trauma victims of the Ugandan civil war through the use of education–basically shows them that violence isn’t the answer and that there is much more they can do besides simply picking up a weapon and attacking their neighbors. Most of the time, a proper education is probably all that’s needed to help stop the violence and many in Africa, let alone Uganda probably don’t have access to it. According to their website, THRIVEGulu offers classes that are geared towards “helping rebuild society, increasing confidence and independence among participants, and providing creative outlets for victims of trauma to tell their stories…

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