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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Charity, the High-Tech Way | Marvels | Holly Finn, WSJ.com

At other times and places, I'm not very charitable in expressing my thoughts about wealthy people and corporations in the United States. I believe short-sighted greed creates a significant problem for middle-class and poor Americans -- and the country itself. Progressive U.S. citizens must advocate regulation and taxation to correct that corrupted version of capitalism.

Yet, this article provides a spin that pleases me. I am grateful for tax-deductible corporate contributions to nonprofit agencies and organizations -- as well as their support for workplace campaigns like United Way. 

Finn's article begins tongue-in-cheek, I think, and then gives examples of one symptom of Sudden Wealth Syndrome, an "increased philanthropic impulse," in Silicon Valley:
Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (backer of Instagram and Zynga) just announced that its six partners will give away half their earnings. This news from Marc Andreessen, 40, and Ben Horowitz, 45, comes just before Facebook's IPO, and just after Warren Buffett's Giving Pledge was signed by tech honchos including PayPal founder Elon Musk, 40, and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, 27. Google's Sergey Brin and wife Anne Wojcicki, both 38, this week promised $1 million to local anti-poverty charity Tipping Point—if it is matched by other Silicon Valley techies.
"Talk about peer pressure," Finn writes, before asking a question: "Wouldn't these wunderkinds do better sticking to business?"

She goes on with answers, with examples, to that question. And near her conclusion, Finn writes:
Silicon Valley is nothing if not tribal. Only here, the elders are the youngers. Philanthropy plays to their strengths. They are resilient, craving results but loving risk. They know how to mobilize millions: Scaling equals success. And they understand technology is transferable, profit to nonprofit.
It used to be you were poor and idealistic (young) or rich and jaded (old). Now you can believe in changing the world—and do it. ...
Excellent! I also see it where I live, Seattle (and Redmond), Washington.

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