Monday, January 11, 2016

The Mark of Philanthropy


Much ink has been spilled in reality and metaphorically on the matter of  Mark Zuckerberg's and Priscilla Chan's $45 billion decision to invest $45 billion in an LLC that will be used to start innovative enterprises and make charitable gifts. What remains to be seen, of course, is what that giving will mean to charities  -- and when. I'm neither holding my breath not will I be much surprised if a trickle and then a stream of giving starts pretty soon -- augmenting the gifts the couple already makes.

I am far  more  interested in two other things Mr. Zuckerberg has done. First he took paternity leave  on the birth of their daughter. That sends a message to US business relatively few of whom actually encourage or countenance such leave-taking. I have  no idea how widespread the practice is at Facebook but the idea matters. It seems  more real than Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO, building a nursery next to her office. Who else at Yahoo could do that?

The second thing is Mr. Zuckerberg's vision of a wider web as reported in today's Financial Times (January 11, 2016). Partnering with smart phone operators in 37 developing countries free internet access will be made available; a simplified Facebook app will provide access to either, news and health; and there will be an option to upgrade for a fee. This is an example I suppose of potentially doing well bodying good. The cynics will focus on that; others  of us will see a great ides: simple, workable and reaching out to the 4 billion people who now have no internet access.

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