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What Took Silicon Valley So Long to Join Fight?

Jack Linshi | Time   in  ·
November 13, 2014

Silicon Valley’s humanitarian aid doesn’t normally come in the form of cash — it comes in the form of tech.

Until last week, there was one group largely missing from the list of Ebola donors: Silicon Valley companies.

Facebook’s and Google’s donation campaigns arrived months into an outbreak that in early summer had already been deemed “the worst Ebola outbreak in history.” And while their giving initiatives are generous — Facebook leveraged valuable online real estate for donation banners, while Google has already raised $5.1 million with its double-matched donations — it’s hard not to ask a lingering question: Why not sooner?

The question has plagued most humanitarian efforts in the Ebola fight. The World Health Organization’s chief criticized the timing of international support, mostly from governments, NGOs and international groups, as being “too little, too late” as far back as September. Some critics have even stepped forward to blast Silicon Valley companies over their timing directly — a Washington Post column noted that multimillion dollar gifts from Silicon Valley figureheads like Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates highlighted the silence from the companies themselves. Another critic argued that Silicon Valley corporations, so-called promisers of change, were hypocritically “sitting out” the Ebola fight.

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