Thank you Marc and Laura Andreessen

Marc Andreessen just talked about donating $27.5 million to Stanford University’s hospital (where my son was born, where Maryam’s mom had brain surgery). I have a video with one of the doctors at the hospital who also works in IT there. Inspiring people all around and great work is done there — the research that’s done there is shared around the world because it’s a teaching/research hospital.

Does this donation affect lives? Very directly. Thank you Marc and Laura, you could have taken this money and done plenty of other stuff with it. I’ve seen other rich geeks in the valley buy yachts, or expensive homes around the world, or other such toys that really don’t give back much, if anything, to the world. This directly impacts tons of people and the learning that gets done there will make an impact around the world.

Last night I was at the Tech Museum’s award show, where they honored geeks around the world who were making a major difference to communities through their technology developments. Very inspiring. Hope to have some videos up soon about that show on PodTech (we were a media sponsor).

One thing both of these do is to challenge me to do more. I don’t have $27.5 million. I’m not a technologist. But, I can donate some time. Say 40 hours by the end of the year.

Where would you donate 40 hours of time? I’d like to bring Patrick along too to teach him there’s more to life than the next cool tech product that’s coming out.

I’m thinking of helping out a food bank with its Thanksgiving meals. What do you think?

48 thoughts on “Thank you Marc and Laura Andreessen

  1. It is a great gift they gave! It is a wonderful thing when people like Marc and Laura and the Gates’ give back. As they say’to whom much has been given, much is expected’ and that includes helping others.

    Having Patrick help hand out meals at a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving is a good thing but what I think might be even more poignant is if you go teach a Junior Achievement class of his peers (and have him come with you) in a low economic school. I have taught JA to a 6th grade class once in a middle-class middle school and I just have to say that my respect for those teachers increased 100 fold. I was exhausted when I left each class at trying to deal with just a few of them who were choosing not to learn mostly because they didn’t realize it was their choice. That experience is why when I chose to teach I teach college kids. :-) Teaching entrepreneurship to college kids was downright fun!

    If I ever have $27 million to give away I will definitely look at giving some of it to the elementary and middle school teachers of the world.

  2. It is a great gift they gave! It is a wonderful thing when people like Marc and Laura and the Gates’ give back. As they say’to whom much has been given, much is expected’ and that includes helping others.

    Having Patrick help hand out meals at a homeless shelter for Thanksgiving is a good thing but what I think might be even more poignant is if you go teach a Junior Achievement class of his peers (and have him come with you) in a low economic school. I have taught JA to a 6th grade class once in a middle-class middle school and I just have to say that my respect for those teachers increased 100 fold. I was exhausted when I left each class at trying to deal with just a few of them who were choosing not to learn mostly because they didn’t realize it was their choice. That experience is why when I chose to teach I teach college kids. :-) Teaching entrepreneurship to college kids was downright fun!

    If I ever have $27 million to give away I will definitely look at giving some of it to the elementary and middle school teachers of the world.

  3. I think it’s great to try and help in whatever way you can or feel convenient. I personally used to be doing some tutoring for charity a couple years ago.

  4. I think it’s great to try and help in whatever way you can or feel convenient. I personally used to be doing some tutoring for charity a couple years ago.

  5. Back in the .boom days, I could’ve worked anywhere (even without completing my degree). I worked for a nonprofit that provided direct service to children and families in need. One thing I did when recruiting IT staff was to make sure they volunteered some small block of hours each month in service to the kids/families. I did, as well, and it’s an eye-opener, for sure. Humbling to the core, to boot.

    When you stand alongside someone on the front line of service delivery helping do whatever it is that needs getting done, it helps put things in perspective. For us in IT, we got re-invigorated about making sure we did just that much more to deliver automation solutions and information products and services that improved the quality of work-life for those folks doing the work in the trenches.

    Sometimes giving time is way more difficult than writing a check, and sometimes that 40 hours can have an impact even more far reaching than tens of millions of dollars. Just like a random act of kindness – payed forward – increases in impact exponentially.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  6. Back in the .boom days, I could’ve worked anywhere (even without completing my degree). I worked for a nonprofit that provided direct service to children and families in need. One thing I did when recruiting IT staff was to make sure they volunteered some small block of hours each month in service to the kids/families. I did, as well, and it’s an eye-opener, for sure. Humbling to the core, to boot.

    When you stand alongside someone on the front line of service delivery helping do whatever it is that needs getting done, it helps put things in perspective. For us in IT, we got re-invigorated about making sure we did just that much more to deliver automation solutions and information products and services that improved the quality of work-life for those folks doing the work in the trenches.

    Sometimes giving time is way more difficult than writing a check, and sometimes that 40 hours can have an impact even more far reaching than tens of millions of dollars. Just like a random act of kindness – payed forward – increases in impact exponentially.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes!

  7. Nice that Marc and Laura donated money, but to be honest, Stanford hospital really doesn’t need the money as much as a lot of other hospitals in the area do. My doctor friend who works at Stanford has made comments about how Stanford has many wealthy patrons that want to donate $ – how about some $ for hospitals that really could use the money? (Oakland?)

  8. Nice that Marc and Laura donated money, but to be honest, Stanford hospital really doesn’t need the money as much as a lot of other hospitals in the area do. My doctor friend who works at Stanford has made comments about how Stanford has many wealthy patrons that want to donate $ – how about some $ for hospitals that really could use the money? (Oakland?)

  9. Ben: 40 hours is an entire week of work time. That’s a HUGE commitment of my time, especially given that I’m trying to get a company off the ground and have a new kid at home. Great for you if you can donate more time than that.

  10. Ben: 40 hours is an entire week of work time. That’s a HUGE commitment of my time, especially given that I’m trying to get a company off the ground and have a new kid at home. Great for you if you can donate more time than that.

  11. You don’t have the cash; you don’t really have the time, so why not do something with what you have lots of? Traffic…

    Maybe you can give away guest blog spots to young aspiring innovators/inventors/entrepreneurs; give them a shot at being heard by a larger audience.

    Put up clear conditions (it must be of value to many people, or benefit the environment, or help little people, or assist education etc.), and ask Patrick to select his favorites – it’s a huge responsibility, but he’s at the right age to know what would benefit the world that is his future.

    Will it affect lives? Absolutely!

  12. You don’t have the cash; you don’t really have the time, so why not do something with what you have lots of? Traffic…

    Maybe you can give away guest blog spots to young aspiring innovators/inventors/entrepreneurs; give them a shot at being heard by a larger audience.

    Put up clear conditions (it must be of value to many people, or benefit the environment, or help little people, or assist education etc.), and ask Patrick to select his favorites – it’s a huge responsibility, but he’s at the right age to know what would benefit the world that is his future.

    Will it affect lives? Absolutely!

  13. Robert,

    This is a great post – I live by one simple statement – “if you have, you give” money, time, professional skills, whatever you can. I learned this from my dad who has been widely recognized for his philanthropic nature through his pro-bono legal work. He is my role model and my hero.

    I would take Patrick to one local charity each day for a week and just volunteer for a few hours. Maybe you and he might partner with Patrick taking the pictures and you writing. I am most certain that all of the organizations would benefit greatly from the exposure that your collective work would bring and nothing is better than doing something like this with your Dad.

    I went and lived in a village in West Africa (my dad was a successful attorney – sold the partner shares and joined the over 50 peace corps program). It was the most meaningful time in my life and I came back with the answer to the question that most people struggle with – “what is enough”. Knowing the answer to that question at such a young age has been amazing for me in my life and while Patrick is likely not old enough to go and live in a hut made of dung (especailly with such a young sibling) his ability to see something each day with you would help him shape his own perspective and give him a precious memory.

  14. Robert,

    This is a great post – I live by one simple statement – “if you have, you give” money, time, professional skills, whatever you can. I learned this from my dad who has been widely recognized for his philanthropic nature through his pro-bono legal work. He is my role model and my hero.

    I would take Patrick to one local charity each day for a week and just volunteer for a few hours. Maybe you and he might partner with Patrick taking the pictures and you writing. I am most certain that all of the organizations would benefit greatly from the exposure that your collective work would bring and nothing is better than doing something like this with your Dad.

    I went and lived in a village in West Africa (my dad was a successful attorney – sold the partner shares and joined the over 50 peace corps program). It was the most meaningful time in my life and I came back with the answer to the question that most people struggle with – “what is enough”. Knowing the answer to that question at such a young age has been amazing for me in my life and while Patrick is likely not old enough to go and live in a hut made of dung (especailly with such a young sibling) his ability to see something each day with you would help him shape his own perspective and give him a precious memory.

  15. wrt the rich buying yachts and big homes, it doesn’t logically follow that they don’t donate. Not sure why we care how other people spend their money.

    As to donations, its easy to give at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The more impactful thing would be to give every month, they are flush during the holidays. After the holidays is when the need arises. Have Patrick work at the food or clothing back. That gives one a real picture.

  16. wrt the rich buying yachts and big homes, it doesn’t logically follow that they don’t donate. Not sure why we care how other people spend their money.

    As to donations, its easy to give at Thanksgiving and Christmas. The more impactful thing would be to give every month, they are flush during the holidays. After the holidays is when the need arises. Have Patrick work at the food or clothing back. That gives one a real picture.

  17. The food banks have a lot of help during the Holidays – less in January and February when it’s cold and people have moved on. Since you’re thinking 40 hours, you can make a 2-hour commitment a week on a specific day for 20 weeks. That way the staff knows those hours should be covered and can schedule accordingly.

    You do have an amazing platform on your blog to write about issues – but the help you could give by being there helps so much. And Patrick would learn a lot about compassion and appreciation. I always do.

  18. The food banks have a lot of help during the Holidays – less in January and February when it’s cold and people have moved on. Since you’re thinking 40 hours, you can make a 2-hour commitment a week on a specific day for 20 weeks. That way the staff knows those hours should be covered and can schedule accordingly.

    You do have an amazing platform on your blog to write about issues – but the help you could give by being there helps so much. And Patrick would learn a lot about compassion and appreciation. I always do.

  19. Robert -
    I liked your response, and think it is a fantastic step in the right direction. However, I have one major comment (and I dont know anything about how you spend your time, so this may be completely misguided). There are 52 days left in the year; is 40 hours the best you can do? That’s less than an hour a day. Also, I would venture a guess that you’ll meet a lot of people and gain an opportunity that you wouldnt otherwise in doing some sort of ‘community’/world service, directly applied to business. I challenge you to devote a full hour a day to service – blog about it, take videos, make it interesting, and think of how many other people you can not only meet for business, but inspire!

  20. Robert -
    I liked your response, and think it is a fantastic step in the right direction. However, I have one major comment (and I dont know anything about how you spend your time, so this may be completely misguided). There are 52 days left in the year; is 40 hours the best you can do? That’s less than an hour a day. Also, I would venture a guess that you’ll meet a lot of people and gain an opportunity that you wouldnt otherwise in doing some sort of ‘community’/world service, directly applied to business. I challenge you to devote a full hour a day to service – blog about it, take videos, make it interesting, and think of how many other people you can not only meet for business, but inspire!

  21. Robert – you have a brilliant response to Marc and Laura’s actions. Instead of simply commenting on the state of hospitals or whether there is corruption, you said simply “what can I do to help.” That kind of thinking is infectious. While I somewhat agree with others about leveraging your unique skillset – there is little that compares with you and your son spending actual time helping actual people. Way to go… I will see what I can do as well.

  22. Robert – you have a brilliant response to Marc and Laura’s actions. Instead of simply commenting on the state of hospitals or whether there is corruption, you said simply “what can I do to help.” That kind of thinking is infectious. While I somewhat agree with others about leveraging your unique skillset – there is little that compares with you and your son spending actual time helping actual people. Way to go… I will see what I can do as well.

  23. Robert, One of the many reasons I follow you closely is because of the integrity, compassion, and introspection which I have read and seen in your blogs. Maybe you could give back the best by showing the geeks where to volunteer or donate. You could showcase technology which helps solve U.S. or world problems; such as 10% of our U.S. population is hungry every day. Maybe teaching non profits how to raise money with social computing would be HUGE.

  24. Robert, One of the many reasons I follow you closely is because of the integrity, compassion, and introspection which I have read and seen in your blogs. Maybe you could give back the best by showing the geeks where to volunteer or donate. You could showcase technology which helps solve U.S. or world problems; such as 10% of our U.S. population is hungry every day. Maybe teaching non profits how to raise money with social computing would be HUGE.

  25. I’ve always thought it very tacky to make public your donations or charity.

    Better to do it and no one knows about it. Some may disagree and say it brings attention to this kind of thing, and makes others think. I disagree. The vast majority of rich people are selfish, self-centered people.

    Bill Gates gives more to the poor than the US does I’ll bet.

    But, it does no good to give without certain assurances. I would make sure NONE of the money hits anyone’s pockets. I would buy the gear they need, pay for the additions, etc. Giving out checks always leads to corruption at some level.

    Well, my respect meter went up a couple of notches for Marc.

  26. I’ve always thought it very tacky to make public your donations or charity.

    Better to do it and no one knows about it. Some may disagree and say it brings attention to this kind of thing, and makes others think. I disagree. The vast majority of rich people are selfish, self-centered people.

    Bill Gates gives more to the poor than the US does I’ll bet.

    But, it does no good to give without certain assurances. I would make sure NONE of the money hits anyone’s pockets. I would buy the gear they need, pay for the additions, etc. Giving out checks always leads to corruption at some level.

    Well, my respect meter went up a couple of notches for Marc.

  27. Having a high profile blog that is on the Technorati top 100 offers a unique outlet to communicate with thousands of affluent and educated geek professionals.

    You can devote a portion of your right column to the free placement of ads or links to a service you feel should be publicized.

    This would not interfere with the tech matters you blog about – but would publicize a need or problem to your readership while giving them the option to click and get more info.

    Of course, you can still use your video skills to illustrate a dramatic problem, then post a link to that video to help publicize this or even donate the video to the related charity.

    Since you probably have influential close friends and family members, why not invite them to donate their efforts to your projects.

  28. Having a high profile blog that is on the Technorati top 100 offers a unique outlet to communicate with thousands of affluent and educated geek professionals.

    You can devote a portion of your right column to the free placement of ads or links to a service you feel should be publicized.

    This would not interfere with the tech matters you blog about – but would publicize a need or problem to your readership while giving them the option to click and get more info.

    Of course, you can still use your video skills to illustrate a dramatic problem, then post a link to that video to help publicize this or even donate the video to the related charity.

    Since you probably have influential close friends and family members, why not invite them to donate their efforts to your projects.

  29. Hey Robert, have you ever taken a look at what we are doing at the Unlimited Potential group up here?We are the folks behind the $3 version of XP and Office for poor schools. We are conducting incubations in this space all around the world. Great Stories. Incredible passion around new models where business meets philanthropy to advance social and economic opportunity.

    You should chek it out.

    James

  30. Hey Robert, have you ever taken a look at what we are doing at the Unlimited Potential group up here?We are the folks behind the $3 version of XP and Office for poor schools. We are conducting incubations in this space all around the world. Great Stories. Incredible passion around new models where business meets philanthropy to advance social and economic opportunity.

    You should chek it out.

    James

  31. I agree with Sam above and feel you should do something that complements your current skills. There is a problem in non-profits where there is very little skill matching–people who are excellent at one thing end up doing something like spooning out food when they could be taking that time to raise money, awareness, fix computers, help with accounting, etc. Soup kitchens at Christmas and Thanksgiving may make you feel good but isn’t particularly useful or needed.

  32. I agree with Sam above and feel you should do something that complements your current skills. There is a problem in non-profits where there is very little skill matching–people who are excellent at one thing end up doing something like spooning out food when they could be taking that time to raise money, awareness, fix computers, help with accounting, etc. Soup kitchens at Christmas and Thanksgiving may make you feel good but isn’t particularly useful or needed.

  33. How do we know 25M won’t just dissappear in the wrong hands and only 2M will be really invested in the hospital?

    Do you trust the hospital’s management?

    A better idea would be to donate equipment instead of money.

    Some would say the hospital has to dictate the needs.

    Then invest 1M in a pair of managers who will work for you and will negotiate with the hospital and their needs and they will do the purchases not the hospital.

    Sorry to be that pessimistic. We’ve seen institutions like red cross and others just dilapidate donations in their managers lifestyle, jets, and apartments in monaco.

    I wouldn’t want my hard earned money donated for a great cause just going down the slots machines in monaco.

  34. How do we know 25M won’t just dissappear in the wrong hands and only 2M will be really invested in the hospital?

    Do you trust the hospital’s management?

    A better idea would be to donate equipment instead of money.

    Some would say the hospital has to dictate the needs.

    Then invest 1M in a pair of managers who will work for you and will negotiate with the hospital and their needs and they will do the purchases not the hospital.

    Sorry to be that pessimistic. We’ve seen institutions like red cross and others just dilapidate donations in their managers lifestyle, jets, and apartments in monaco.

    I wouldn’t want my hard earned money donated for a great cause just going down the slots machines in monaco.

  35. I dontate a lot of time and money to my project OpenDomain. This enables other open groups to donate the software to the world at large.
    However, this is very impersonal and many people do not know what we do. Perhaps I should go out as you say and commit my time.

  36. I dontate a lot of time and money to my project OpenDomain. This enables other open groups to donate the software to the world at large.
    However, this is very impersonal and many people do not know what we do. Perhaps I should go out as you say and commit my time.

  37. I was talking to my old college professor the other day, and he told me about when he met Marc back when Marc was still in high school (it was a college program reaching out to high school students), trying to decide whether to try his luck on getting into an Ivy League school or to go somewhere “less prestigious.” The professor remarked about strongly encouraging Marc to consider other schools, such as Illinois (this part of the story is a little hazy… Marc may have been considering Illinois already), and seeing the promise in the young student, tried to help him get accepted.

    I’m sure he would be quite proud to hear that Marc is likewise trying to help out others… and in a very big way.

    Re: The Thanksgiving idea–that’s always quite a bit of fun, although I think what you may find is that the food banks often have more help than they can really use on those days, and hardly enough on the rest. If I may suggest… though Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion on which to think about giving back, even better still would be not to tie the idea to a holiday or particular event, but just as a part of a life of meaning. And even better yet… perhaps you could discuss with Patrick a sacrifice that would “sting” a little bit–giving up something he values (together, of course… heh). At a young age (and any age, really), those experiences definitely shape one’s life.

  38. I was talking to my old college professor the other day, and he told me about when he met Marc back when Marc was still in high school (it was a college program reaching out to high school students), trying to decide whether to try his luck on getting into an Ivy League school or to go somewhere “less prestigious.” The professor remarked about strongly encouraging Marc to consider other schools, such as Illinois (this part of the story is a little hazy… Marc may have been considering Illinois already), and seeing the promise in the young student, tried to help him get accepted.

    I’m sure he would be quite proud to hear that Marc is likewise trying to help out others… and in a very big way.

    Re: The Thanksgiving idea–that’s always quite a bit of fun, although I think what you may find is that the food banks often have more help than they can really use on those days, and hardly enough on the rest. If I may suggest… though Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion on which to think about giving back, even better still would be not to tie the idea to a holiday or particular event, but just as a part of a life of meaning. And even better yet… perhaps you could discuss with Patrick a sacrifice that would “sting” a little bit–giving up something he values (together, of course… heh). At a young age (and any age, really), those experiences definitely shape one’s life.

  39. Robert, I reckon you should do something a little more tailored to your publicity pull factor if you want to donate 40 hours of your time. How about blogging for one full week about interesting web sites that aim to tackle world poverty, global warming etc. etc. You’ll get tons of publicity for the sites and causes involved and your time donated will stretch much further than it ever would over a Thanksgiving foodbank. You could even have Patrick guestblogging a few if you wanted to get him involved :)

  40. Robert, I reckon you should do something a little more tailored to your publicity pull factor if you want to donate 40 hours of your time. How about blogging for one full week about interesting web sites that aim to tackle world poverty, global warming etc. etc. You’ll get tons of publicity for the sites and causes involved and your time donated will stretch much further than it ever would over a Thanksgiving foodbank. You could even have Patrick guestblogging a few if you wanted to get him involved :)

  41. I think it’s a shame hospitals need to rely on private charity to do their work. But I’m just a Euro lefty and that’s politics. We don’t need to talk about that ;-)

    I think it’s brilliant. I don’t have 27 million either and I do way too little.

    There’s always excuses but I have to think what I could do directly. Posts like this make us realize that.

    I take comfort in the fact that we’re developing our elearning platform not just as a commercial product, but as an entry level course that small organizations can use for tech education as well. It’s not about the gadgets but about access and that blasted digital divide.

    Good on you Robert, and good of Marc. Again, brilliant.

  42. I think it’s a shame hospitals need to rely on private charity to do their work. But I’m just a Euro lefty and that’s politics. We don’t need to talk about that ;-)

    I think it’s brilliant. I don’t have 27 million either and I do way too little.

    There’s always excuses but I have to think what I could do directly. Posts like this make us realize that.

    I take comfort in the fact that we’re developing our elearning platform not just as a commercial product, but as an entry level course that small organizations can use for tech education as well. It’s not about the gadgets but about access and that blasted digital divide.

    Good on you Robert, and good of Marc. Again, brilliant.

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