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The Almighty Buck Education Microsoft Politics

Billionaire Donors Lavish Millions On Code.org Crowdfunding Project 84

theodp (442580) writes "Whether it's winning yacht races, assembling the best computer science faculty, or even dominating high school basketball, billionaires like to win. Which may help explain why three tech billionaires — Code.org backers (and FWD.us founders) Mark Zuckerberg, VC John Doerr, and Sean Parker — stepped up to the plate and helped out Code.org's once-anemic Hour of Code Indiegogo crowdfunding project with $500k donations. When matched by Code.org's largest donors (Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman and others), the three donations alone raised $3,000,000, enough to reach the organization's goal of becoming the most funded crowdfunding campaign ever on Indiegogo. On its campaign page, Code.org remarked that "to sustain our organization for the long haul, we need to engage parents and community members," which raises questions about how reliant the K-12 learn-to-code movement might be on the kindness of its wealthy corporate and individual donors. Code.org started shedding some light on its top donors a few months back, but contributor names are blank in the 2013 IRS 990 filing posted by the organization on its website, although GuideStar suggests the biggest contributors in 2013 were Microsoft ($3,149,411) and Code.org founders Hadi and Ali Partovi ($1,873,909 in Facebook stock). Coincidentally, in a Reddit AMA at Code.org's launch, CEO and Founder Hadi Partovi noted that his next-door-neighbor is Microsoft General Counsel and Code.org Board member Brad Smith, whose FWD.us bio notes is responsible for Microsoft's philanthropic work. Just months before Code.org and FWD.us emerged on the lobbying scene, Smith announced Microsoft's National Talent Strategy, which called for "an increase in developing the American STEM pipeline in exchange for these new [H-1B] visas and green cards," a wish that President Obama is expected to grant shortly via executive action."
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Billionaire Donors Lavish Millions On Code.org Crowdfunding Project

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  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @06:57PM (#48398839) Journal

    Nice thing about billionaires is it really only takes one to make a crowd.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Criticizing philanthropy falls outside the circa 2014 Overton window, plebian.

      Bow in appreciation to those who pick your pockets and then generously give you the lint back as a charitable gift.

      All opposition to neoliberal hegemony will be crushed by His Holliness John Galt.

      • This! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @07:24PM (#48398945)

        There is a great portion of my favorite book on Political thought regarding wages and the Artisan. Socrates points out that once a person in society receives ample money for a project they no longer have incentive to do future work. Socrates continues stating that this is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the person with the wealth is now free to meddle in the affairs of everybody else in society. That meddling is almost never in societies interests, but that person or the person's close friends and associates, so that they gain further control of society and have more stuff than everyone else.

        That book in case you are interested is Plato's "The Republic".

        The whole "everyone should code" argument is foolish. Society needs plumbers, welders, architects, accountants, doctors, physicists, line workers, and every other job there is. As society has demand for jobs the wages should go up, which draws people into the needed jobs. Since coders are in demand and receive good wages for their work, it seems at least some of this push is to artificially reduce the wages by flooding the market. And lets face it, there are not a whole lot of decent paying middle class jobs left in the US any longer.

        • Society needs plumbers, welders, architects, accountants, doctors, physicists, line workers, and every other job there is.

          You and everyone else who thinks being a plumber is a lucrative job now and tomorrow needs to understand that automation is going to change the employment landscape dramatically in the coming years. The undereducated people who have been automated out of their warehouse work, call center jobs, etc. will dogpile on those jobs that pay well and don't require a diploma. Then those jobs w

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Apply what you wrote in first paragraph to the second. Billionaries want to reduce costs not help the masses.

          • I do think their support of STEM is in the interest of growing the domestic workforce towards the needs of industry.

            If by "needs of the industry", you mean "get to pay programmers less", then sure, that's what they want.

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )

            I never stated plumbing was a lucrative job, I don't even think I hinted at it. Automation has it's place, but many things are not better [qz.com] given our current ability to automate.

            These wealthy tech billionaires see the writing on the wall and are trying to help equip the masses to be more relevant in tomorrow's job market.

            These wealthy billionaires did not become wealthy billionaires by altruism, sorry. I appreciate your opinion, but I don't believe for one second that they have societies best interest in mind with this push. I consider that they read the reference I provided and took the message of Sophistry and Machiavelli instead of altruism. I

          • Am I wrong to think that plumbing, as a profession, will outlive every job in the tech sector?

          • Being a plumber is not quite the doddle you seem to think it is. You might not need a PhD, but it's still not something that everyone wants, or is able to do.

            The simple proof of this is the number of people doing tedious jobs on minimum wage, when according to your theory they could all be out there earning much more as plumbers now.

        • by m00sh ( 2538182 )

          There is a great portion of my favorite book on Political thought regarding wages and the Artisan. Socrates points out that once a person in society receives ample money for a project they no longer have incentive to do future work. Socrates continues stating that this is not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is that the person with the wealth is now free to meddle in the affairs of everybody else in society. That meddling is almost never in societies interests, but that person or the person's close friends and associates, so that they gain further control of society and have more stuff than everyone else.

          That book in case you are interested is Plato's "The Republic".

          The whole "everyone should code" argument is foolish. Society needs plumbers, welders, architects, accountants, doctors, physicists, line workers, and every other job there is. As society has demand for jobs the wages should go up, which draws people into the needed jobs. Since coders are in demand and receive good wages for their work, it seems at least some of this push is to artificially reduce the wages by flooding the market. And lets face it, there are not a whole lot of decent paying middle class jobs left in the US any longer.

          Human societies are now billions of people. Even millions of dollars are just a drop in the sea. There is absolutely no way anyone can know what that drop is good or bad for society. Is the projected funded by a billionaire for his interests more detrimental than a project sanctioned by a government official using taxpayer money?

          By the same logic of not everyone should code, then everyone shouldn't need to read and write, do math, learn science? Every scientist now learns to code; engineers code, physicis

          • by s.petry ( 762400 )
            Here is a novel idea, read the book for yourself and see what it says regarding education. After you do this, get back to me and we can discuss whether or not Socrates was correct regarding public education.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    ...why all this obsession to get every kid out there and their dogs to "code"?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      to drive down the salary of coders so that they can take more of the profit.

    • ...why all this obsession to get every kid out there and their dogs to "code"?

      The Singularity is coming. If we can't beat them with quality, we might just try overwhelming them with numbers.

      At least the Iranians think this is a valid strategy.

  • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @07:11PM (#48398903)

    Why support a racist and misandric bunch of SJWs? This ends up perpetuating stereotypes, while creating resentment all around.

    • To be fair, they removed all the "lets get girls to code and leave boys out in the cold" stuff pretty quickly. Perhaps they thought this might discourage contributions from about 50% of the population.

  • Here [newyorker.com] is how you boost your child's high school basketball team.
    • Well that's good, but what the hell does it have to do with this subject? People who throw Malcolm Gladwell articles are like monkeys and their Malcolm Gladwell articles.

    • While I enjoy much of Malcolm Gladwell's writing, I was able to answer the question presented in the subtitle without giving it much thought.

      A non-stop full-court press gives weak basketball teams a chance against far stronger teams. Why have so few adopted it?

      Because it requires a lot more endurance to pull off a full court press. You've got to get your entire team dedicated to jogging like a track team on their own time. Then they still have to learn to shoot, rebound, etc.

      You can also out-strategize the press, [youtube.com] as John Belein demonstrated a couple years back when Michigan absolutely crushed VCU in the NCAA tournament. The

  • "lavish"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 16, 2014 @07:19PM (#48398927)

    That's like 0.1% of their worth. It would be like me "lavishing" 60$ on them.

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      That's like 0.1% of their worth. It would be like me "lavishing" 60$ on them.

      And did you give $60? Thought not.

      People needing assistance are helped no less if the donor is well off.

      "Compassion is not about sacrifice" - Tenzin Gyatso, 14th (and likely final) Dalai Lama.

  • One of the first things code.org needs to do is settle on the first coding language to teach. Problem with coding languages is they do not follow the logic of other things young people are taught 'reading, 'w'riting and 'a'rithmatic' but only follows their own 'internal' logic and this makes it much more difficult to learn. The language needs to more tightly align with normal spoken and written language and maths use. Which of course makes other spoken languages coding language an interesting problem. Wan

    • by lgw ( 121541 )

      The language needs to more tightly align with normal spoken and written language and maths use.

      No, no it really, really doesn't. Every terrible blight upon the landscape of programming languages have come from this same, horrible mistake. The difficult part of programming is organizing your thoughts, not learning the language.

      Teach using a simple language that makes it clear what the computer is doing, preferably a language without a lot of confusing cruft in it, though it seems all the common high-level languages have crazy historical baggage these days. Plus the point of this is to make people

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Again another fool trying to justify qwerty to this day. So why are they not teaching the QWEs at school and still persist in teaching the ABCs, make up your fucking mind which is right and PS stop you anal comment dissection it is lame.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Monday November 17, 2014 @01:56AM (#48400311)
    The whole code.org thing always smelled fishy to me. When the "join the high paid software field with only six days/weeks/months of training" crap showed up I was even more befuddled. Nothing seemed to add up.

    Now it all makes sense. These are cheap flashy diversions intended as distraction from the real agenda. They can claim they are supporting the future of STEM education in the US, and training those post K-12 to become employable in software. See, they are patriotic businessmen who love the US!!!

    Meanwhile the real plan is to flood the market with unlimited foreign trained employees and drive technical salaries into the dirt. They won't be satisfied until technical talent is in the same range as minimum wage.

    Before anyone screams that I'm crazy, that is exactly what happened in the visual effects industry. A combination of moving jobs offshore [biv.com], lots of 1H-B visas, and a glut of under-trained people moved salaries for many into the under $25/hour range. No health insurance, and since everyone is a show hire, no job security. You don't like the unpaid 40% overtime? Go work at Starbucks.

    By the way, that is not a theoretical circumstance. I know someone who used to do pretty well doing visual effects. Eventually he had to declare bankruptcy, and take jobs at both Starbucks and Target. When he finally got back into do effects he was making a third his previous salary. Since he is officially a "professional", he works at least 16 hours a week unpaid overtime. The job is six months, and at the first of the year he'll be pounding the pavement looking for something else. It's kind of like free lance indentured servitude.

    If your think that your precious technical ass is immune to this, you deserve to end up sleeping in your car. The plan to screw you is in motion and all systems are go. The only question is what are you going to do about it.

    • The standard response on slashdot when someone mentions writers/musicians not earning money from royalties (because copyright is evil) is that the world doesn't owe them a living, and so they can either do live shows, sell character dolls or subsidise their art by waiting on tables.

      Why, apart from the fact that they've been brought up to believe they are precious snowflakes, are programmers or people in the "visual effects industry" any different?

  • by HnT ( 306652 ) on Monday November 17, 2014 @07:34AM (#48400977)

    It should not be surprising to see those names up there, for them it is all about getting access to cheaper employees by conjuring up the idea that there are not enough "experts" available. Bitkom has been doing the same scheme for over a decade now in Germany and it has become a running joke amongst IT professionals.

  • This still doesn't explain why Facebook is worth $208 billion. That's more than AT&T which has paying customers, Toyota, which makes cars, and Pfizer, which makes drugs. How does Facebook make their money, or enough to justify it being more valuable than Toyota?
  • I did supect in smaller percentages than name engineering schools. A couple months of web coding does not make a software engineer.
  • They wouldn't have to do this if we just closed tax loopholes, then America would actually have the money to teach its youth.

    Technology is not the solution; you can't scale attention.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay

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