There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about how privileged I am. I believe that with privilege comes responsibility to give back.

For years we lived hand to mouth and then everything changed. It become more important than ever for us to give back not only because we should but to show leadership to the community and most of all our children.

I remember giving the opening speech at the Mouse event in 1999 where we raised $1m from the tech community. I spoke about the importance of closing the digital divide because I couldn’t imagine what a boring terrible life it would be if our kids grew up in a world where everyone they knew was just like them.

Fast forward, we got involved in several organizations from Donors Choose to Hot Bread Kitchen to CSNYC because we cared about their mission and we wanted to make a difference.

The leaders in our tech community have not done much of the same. The wealth that has been created in tech companies is not even fathomable. Why haven’t more people been more philanthropic and taken their abilities to shake things up to communities? There is literally human feces on the streets of San Francisco and there does not seem to be a rabble-rousing from the top of the tech community with dollars and sense.

Bill and Melinda Gates have been leaders in this but not many have followed. Why? We should all be asking ourselves the same questions? Why are there not more leaders in the tech sector taking their dollars and making change where change is truly needed? Why aren’t more leaders in the tech community with tremendously deep pockets getting behind something now and making a difference in the world?

At one point they might all cure a disease but how about just writing a few checks now?

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    The satisfaction of giving has an unbelievable high. I agree with you.

  2. Shelly Lipton

    That’s a big WHY!! I ask myself the same question often as I try painfully to get more support around a simple mission: keeping plastic toys out of landfills!

  3. jason wright

    Look to the web tech industry’s core business model for the answer. It breeds contempt. People become a biological ‘component’ of a machine. It’s dehumanising. Web tech has drifted toward being a form of neo fascism.

  4. Semil Shah

    This happens in India, and I believe somewhat related to what happens with democratic government when they get so big. In India, the elite can live in very crowded cities, but they can easily “opt-out” of the on-the-ground conditions without any penalty. They can afford better doctors, private drivers, personal cooks. That is just significantly easier than pushing for more public transit, or letting people commute by scooter with price congestion. People may want that stuff to happen, but they feel beaten down by going through a process where change is hard to make happen. I’m not condoning all of this — I agree with you, folks in the Bay Area who have become real paper billionaires haven’t really protected their physical home turf — but just offering an explanation of why it’s likely to happen because of the response folks get when they try to change things.

    1. LE

      Unrelated but interesting I just finished watching Delhi Crime on Netflix. It stars Shefali Shah (who was also in Monsoon Wedding). It deals with the ‘bus incident’ that happened a number of years ago.…My wife works with many Indian Physicians. One, a woman, was actually considering going back to India from the US. She was in an arranged marriage. Apparently her life in India was pretty good. I don’t even want to use the word she apparently used to describe the people that were available to her ‘to help’ with the chores (this is somewhat shown in Delhi Crime as are other facets of life in at least one part of that country).