First in a series of articles.
One of the icons at the core of Silicon Valley has passed away a few weeks ago. It wasn’t the inventor of the silicon wafer, semiconductor, or the “dot” in the dot com. It wasn’t the computer with a “fruity” name. Nor the next greatest thing on the internet since sliced bread.
Sadly, the Silicon Valley Charity Ball never made it to its twentieth anniversary. Founded during the first boom of Silicon Valley when the tech sector was making its mark in the global forum, the Charity Ball reflected the exuberance and vision of the early pioneers who struck “silicon” gold. “Celebrating fortunes and giving back to the community” was the new mantra that would distinguish Silicon Valley philanthropy as the new model for success.
The Charity Ball mirrored the ups and downs of the Valley as more and more companies jumped on the bandwagon of giving. It was not only the mark of a good corporate citizen, it was an excellent opportunity to “network with the big boys” and a great way to promote one’s company. “Philanthropy” was a full-fledged marketing tool that created critical mass in the media as the “successes of the Valley gave to the needy of the Valley”.
Altruism? Marketing? Compassion? Networking? Opportunities? Social and civic duty? Or just plain fun? Silicon Valley was on a roll, and so was the Ball. How ever one was sucked into the frenzy, the Ball not only gained “traction” for itself, but kicked up charity fundraising in the Valley to heights.
Like the venture companies and the dot com entrepreneurs, there was “no stopping us now” as the bar continued to rise in terms of glitz, glamour and monies raised. “It was fun while it lasted”… “It gave exposure to a lot of smaller non-profits that were below the radar of the general media”… “It introduced the concept of giving to a lot of new tech venture companies”… “Times have changed”.
The rise and fall of a Silicon Valley icon gave birth to new ideas, different perspectives of raising monies, and attempted to “create community” in a diverse land of opportunity for many.
For the many who were involved from all aspects of the community, I welcome your thoughts, memories, critiques and commentaries on the passing of this Silicon Valley icon.