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Press Here: There are 76,000 millionaires and billionaires in Santa Clara and San Mateo alone

By Sarah Lacy , written on April 19, 2017

From The Economics Desk

After yesterday-- who are we kidding? After 2017-- we’re all about ready for some signs of life in Silicon Valley’s soul right?

How is this for comparatively glowing: “Silicon Valley is actually fairly generous” when it comes to philanthropy according to Open Impact’s Heather McLeod Grant.

We were both on NBC’s Press:Here Sunday, and I was prepared for a conversation about all these stingy millionaires and billionaires. That was very much the story when I moved to Silicon Valley some 17 years ago at the peak of the dot com bubble. Silicon Valley was comparatively stingy as a percentage of net worth it gave, relative to the national average.

The good news: That has changed.

The really good news: The millionaires and billionaires of Silicon Valley feel a global responsibility and connectedness that-- say-- President Donald Trump does not.

The not-so-good news: 90% of this largesse is going to national and global causes, not local impoverishment and needs.

And that matters because the wealth disconnect in Silicon Valley is getting more pronounced. In just Santa Clara and San Mateo county there are 76,000 millionaires and billionaires. That net worth doesn’t include property and it doesn’t include paper stock. It’s in investible available assets. Meanwhile, some 30% of those populations are on some form of public assistance.

It’s hard to begrudge a Bill Gates or a Dustin Moskovitz working to eradicate malaria or hunger around the world. But the tech boom is what’s caused a lot of the impoverishment and displacement at home. Isn’t there some responsibility to help fix what tech has broken? If for no other reason than quelling local NIMBY anger?  

A few local organizations excel at getting tech money into local causes, among them Glide, The Tipping Point and the Boys and Girls Club of East Palo Alto. More on what they are doing right, in the video clip, here.