broke Wednesday that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be donating $100
million to the Newark public schools this week. The Newark school system is famously hard-up, having been taken over by the state of New
Jersey back in the '90s. Zuckerberg himself "attended public high school in Ardsley, N.Y., before
transferring to the private Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, N.H.," the Wall Street Journal notes.
Of course, many point out that the gift comes close to the October 1 release of The Social Network, a movie said to portray Zuckerberg as something of a back-stabber extraordinaire. As Sam Gustin of Daily Finance explains:
Zuckerberg's donation is huge and generous, but due to the timing, the gift will inevitably be seen by some as an attempt by the young CEO and his company to combat the image presented by the movie. Critics have said the film (I haven't seen it) portrays Zuckerberg in an unflattering light.
Yet the generally skeptical blogging world is not reacting
this way to the gift. By and large, commentators are cheering Zuckerberg's donation to the struggling Newark district, preemptively defending against cynical questions about his motives.
- 'Some Will Call the Donation Calculated,' writes Blake Robinson at Mashable. Aside from the movie, "the donation could also be aimed at counteracting any negative stigma that could arise from his new rank on the Forbes 400." But Robinson's not buying it:
The fact of the matter is that Mark Zuckerberg just donated $100 million of his own personal wealth to one of the country’s worst school systems. This is the sort of philanthropy that we see from the likes of Warren Buffett and Bill Gates; frankly, it’s amazing to have someone else with the ability to contribute at that level to that field. Ideally, we should be able to take the gesture at face value and not taint it with speculation.
- 'It's Hard to Applaud This Move Loudly Enough' Henry Blodget of Business Insider continues the cheering. Though Zuckerberg is indeed even wealtheir than the donation would suggest, " that's mostly private paper wealth. And the man is only 25 years old." Regarding the matter of motivation, Blodget says: "whatever. It's a huge gift, one he didn't have to make."
- The Second Coming of Andrew Carnegie! Greg Sterling at Screenwerk isn't quite calling for a Te Deum, but he does make a noteworthy point about the country's famous philanthropists: "Andrew Carnegie was certainly no 'good guy' on the way up, nor was JP Morgan or Rockefeller. Yet these men came to realize the value that their wealth could bring to others and the society at large." Gates, he adds, has had his "'evil' moments, too." The bottom line, says Sterling, is that public education needs help. "If this donation is cynical, calculated or the product of narcissism somehow, I say let there be more of it."
- Just Look at These Numbers Dan Nosowitz tallies it up at Fast Company. "Zuckerberg is working with Newark mayor Cory Booker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to secure a matching $100 million from various private foundations. That $200 million would amount to well over 20% of the Newark public school system's total budget." His conclusion? It "makes Facebook seem worth its stellar valuation."