THRIVEgulu Launch PartyEveryone knows that every once in a while, Silicon Valley has the pleasure of hosting visits by some of Hollywood’s brightest actors, actresses, and celebrities. Let’s face it, with the popularity of Facebook, Google, Twitter, and YouTube, famous individuals are always stopping by to learn the latest and greatest in technology to promote their products, themselves, or their causes. Case in point: last Thursday, several well-known individuals stopped by the Bay Area to announce the launch of a non-profit charity called THRIVEGulu. You can read about this charity in my last blog post, but suffice it to say, the launch event was definitely one where you could see the convergence of celebrity and the tech world in an evening of fun, education, and inspiration.

The festivities began around 6pm in downtown San Francisco at Roe Nightclub where fans gathered outside waiting for their chance to meet two famous individuals who have had a lasting impact on the science-fiction genre over the past few years: Eliza Dushku and Joss Whedon. Lines were out the door with people for this quick meet & greet. But soon, the real entertainment began in the upstairs in a much more intimate and private gathering hosted by the two celebrities and one of the tech industry’s most prominent individuals, Ben Parr, former Editor-at-Large at Mashable and founder of The Peep Project. This gathering attracted a bevy of who’s who from the industry to have a great evening learning about THRIVEGulu and donating their wallets to benefit a worthwhile African charity.

To view the complete set of photos from the evening, you can view them on my Flickr photostream.

And when I say “who’s who”, I pretty much mean that…What’s Trending‘s Shira Lazar was in attendance to interview both Ms. Dushku and Mr. Whedon, along with the night’s emcee Hooman Khalili, a morning show host on local radio station Alice@97.3, and Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist. But it didn’t just stop there…Jack Dorsey, founder of Square and Twitter, also graced the group with his presence, but apparently spent time speaking with one of his investors, Jean-David Blanc. Path’s Shakil Khan, along with Brew PR’s Brooke Hammerling and Bloomberg’s Doug MacMillian showed up. Topix’s Chris Tolles, Hipmunk’s Danilo Campos, Flipboard’s Christel Vanderboom, Echo’s Chris Saad, TextPlus’s Amy Higgins,’s Cathy Brooks, and Sponsorfied’s co-founder Baldwin Cunningham all were seen as well. What did I tell you? A bevy of good people eager to help a charitable foundation and have a great time.

THRIVEgulu Launch PartyThe night’s entertainment was provided by Feedbomb, a compilation band put together by past and present members of Facebook, who have had some great performances at events like Silicon Valley Rocks, and perhaps most recently at the party at the Clift Hotel. With cover songs from Journey, Lady Gaga, and even Carly Rae Jepsen, the band really had the crowd going.

Not only was there music, but there was also a silent and a live auction as well. Donations from Ms. Dushku’s boyfriend, Rick Fox, as well as limited edition comic books and memorabilia given by other benefactors, including Joss Whedon, the crowd really got into giving for the cause. The hope for the charity was to raise at least $300,000 to help build a center in Uganda and the night’s event was just the first step in setting the pace. And boy did it…rumors have the night’s total being almost 1/3 of the way there and that amount was helped by the fact that during the live auction, some pretty damn good things were being given away. Someone spent some serious cash on a trip to Uganda with Ms. Dushku and her mother, Professor Dushku, and take part in visiting the THRIVEGulu center, while someone else put in a winning bid on tickets to The Daily Show with John Stewart and a private tour. But perhaps the winning bid went to Ms. Hammerling who wagered a substantial amount as a proxy for someone to have dinner with acclaimed director, Joss Whedon. Yeah, I dare to say that the tech community has some deep pockets to give back to worthwhile charities.

If you want to donate to THRIVEGulu, then you can do so by clicking here. But in the meantime, here are some photos from the evening to show you how they rolled:

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
It’s a packed house at Roe Nightclub for the THRIVEGulu launch party

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Craigslist founder, Craig Newmark, with Ben Parr

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Some of the auctioned off items for the evening

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Echo’s Chris Saad with Professor Judy Dushku

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Eliza Dushku looks on as her mother, Professor Dushku, speaks about the charity

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Joss Whedon takes the stage to talk about THRIVEGulu, alongside Shira Lazar & Eliza Dushku

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Yes, that’s former Los Angeles Lakers player, Rick Fox

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Business Insider’s Owen Thomas & Ben Parr

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Owen Thomas (again), with former Facebook’er Chris Pan, and Klout CEO, Joe Fernandez

THRIVEgulu Launch Party
Joss Whedon with Brooke Hammerling after she won the winning bid to take Mr. Whedon to dinner

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Feedbomb takes the stage with Randi Zuckerberg singing while Chris Pan on the guitar

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Randi Zuckerberg and Eliza Dushku

Sabrina Bruning & Shirley Hornstein
The two THRIVEGulu organizers who helped put together the incredible evening, Sabrina Bruning and Shirley Hornstein

You can view more photos from the event on my Flickr photostream by clicking here.

Photo Credits:
- Photo of Sabrina Bruning & Shirley Hornstein taken by Drew Altizer for THRIVEGulu/Facebook
- All other photos shown in this post were taken by Kenneth Yeung/Flickr

About the Author:

Ken Yeung

Editor-in-Chief of and an accomplished interactive producer in the San Francisco/Silicon Valley area interested in all things in tech and marketing. Whether its gadgets or startups or related issues, he's eager to learn about it. From attending local and national conferences to appearing at events, parties, and other meetups, Ken is interested in sharing what he sees. Oh, and he's an accomplished photographer too, having been commissioned by Mashable, TechCrunch, TechSet, SXSW, BlogWorld, and many more.

Visit Ken's page at


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