In this, our final (for now) "rich people snubbing charities" post, a reader sends a letter about his own getting-ignored-by-Valley-people story. Over the past few years, Michael Birdsong asked VCs or tech company leaders, all employing him at the time, to match funds he was raising to fight cancer. Give ya two guesses whether they even responded.

I saw your items: "Internet Millionaires to African AIDS Babies: Drop dead!" and "Larry Ellison doesn't care about sick people" and recalled my fund raising attempts among Silicon Valley leaders and VC's who use "Benjamins" for toilet paper.

My wife is a seven year breast cancer survivor and a road cyclist. Over the last three years, she and I have manged to raise about $30,000 for the Lance Armastrong Foundation (LAF).


We are not displeased with that total, and money I have made off of stock options originating in Silicon Valley have allowed us to donate about $21,000 of that total our of our own resources.

We believe in putting our money where our mouths and beliefs are. We are a middle class married couple here in Boulder, CO who 'lucked into' some financial windfalls which were very large in our view (but probably would not cover the money Larry Page makes in Google stock, in the time required to blow his nose).


The "odd" thing is, I have been making "matching donation challenges" over the last three years to leaders of certain high tech companies and venture capitalist (all of whom were directly or indirectly my employers at the time of the challenges).

I wasn't just asking for a handout to the LAF, I was going to match EACH of their donations, with one of my own, up to about a limit of $10,000 each year.

I only ever generated TWO responses (and got those only after a fair amount of badgering and one letter which bordered on "Two O'clock in the morning Jerry Lewis Telethon begging") and a total of $2000 in donations in three years of trying.

Given what I said before, we have ended up matching such funds on a 10 to 1 ratio.

The people in question are leaders in HUGE technology companies and worth multiple millions of dollars, yet they 'throw around nickels like they were manhole covers'.

So the results Curt Hopkins got do not surprise me in the least.

"The rich are different than you and me" — F. Scott Fitzgerald


michael birdsong