The US's high tech elite was asked to stump up $11 million this month to make up a surprise shortfall in funding for grassroots charities that help the poor and homeless in Silicon Valley.
But once again the majority of the US's nouveau riche looked the other way and it was the "usual suspects" that came to the aid of the area's poor who are trying to make a life for themselves in one of the most expensive counties in the country.
The problems began when the United Way, a catchall charity that feeds funds down to grassroots organisations, announced an $11 million shortfall in funding caused by doubtful administrative decisions both locally and nationally. This reduced donors' confidence that their money would filter through to the needy.
As a result, an SOS went out to residents in the Valley to try and quickly make up the deficit. Steve Kirsch, Infoseek's founder, wrote to more than 65 of his wealthy Silicon Valley colleagues to ask them to join him in donating $1 million. He did not get a penny.
In fact, apart from Kirsch, the only Internet zillionaire to help was a foundation set up by auction site Ebay, which - uniquely at the time - created the trust with IPO shares.
Within three weeks, however, the $11 million was covered with a number of seven figure cheques from well known industry figures and numerous other smaller contributions from rank and file Silicon Valley dwellers.
Hewlett-Packard and Gordon Moore, the cofounder of Intel, donated $1 million as did two other anonymous donors. The David and Lucille Packard Foundation, which for years has been the Valley's biggest donor, gave another $2 million, but Bill Gates trumped them all with a $5 million pledge.
A survey last year of Silicon Valley's wealthy found that 45% of them gave less than $2,000 to charity. But Kirsch, although disappointed by the outcome of his personal appeal, says it is not all their fault. Neither he nor his company had ever been asked to give money to the United Way and it was him personally that had decided to try and come to its rescue, he explained.
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