The Top Donors of 2013

The year 2013 was a fantastic year for philanthropy. According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, the total donation amount of $7.7 billion in 2013, is up 4% from the total accumulated in 2012. This is, in part, due to an improvement in the overall economy and a strong stock market.

Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge campaign is also credited in part. It is reported that 19 of the 50 top donors for 2013 have signed the pledge. Notably, neither Buffet nor Gates were on the Top 50 list. That isn’t to say that these people are not generous, as the list only counts commitments made during the fiscal year to avoid counting the same amount twice.

The surge in donations is also due in part to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife. They donated roughly $1 billion in Facebook stock to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The donation makes the Silicon Valley Community Foundation one of the biggest foundations in the nation. The donation itself represents approximately 13% of the total given by the nation’s Top 50 donors.

The next biggest donation was a $750 million donation by the late George Mitchell, a pioneer in the fracking industry. His donation to the Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation will help provide grants for various environmental causes.

Rounding out the top ten are Nike co-founder Phil Knight, former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, hedge fund manager John Arnold, owner of the San Francisco Giants Charles Johnson, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and the late Jeffrey Carlton, founder of Press Forge.

Perhaps the most interesting donor on the list is Jack MacDonald. MacDonald passed away last year and split his $139 million between the Seattle Children’s Hospital, the University Of Washington School Of Law, and the Salvation Army. The editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Stacy Palmer, reported that MacDonald only gave around $20 at a time to the Salvation Army during his life. The press has called MacDonald “the secret millionaire.”

Most donations came from California and New York, and colleges and universities were the largest recipients. College endowments gained an average of 11.7% since last year. Yale University alone received $250 million from Charles Johnson. Foundations, hospitals, medical centers, museums, and human service groups also received large endowments from generous donors.

10-cent Surcharge Imposed by NY City Council for Plastic Bags

New York shoppers are liable to face a ten-cent surcharge to bring home their groceries in paper or plastic bags. The city’s panel of councilors recently shed light on the initiative in the interest of the environment and citizens. In addition, the vast percentage (nineteen of twenty-five members), have deemed the effort beneficial to cut the government’s annual 10-million-dollar plastic bag disposal budget. As a reformed strategy, implementation is not the easiest undertaking.

According to the tally record, supporters need another seven council member votes to endorse the proposal officially. The vision and mission pose a forward-thinking measure to improve the living conditions in the New York vicinity. Besides, the long-term outlook is imminent for the betterment of the communities, inhabitants and the economy.

Council members are making the arrangements to attend the hearing in the upcoming weeks. Thus far, speculation about the weight of the argument fills the air. Nonetheless, supporters and environmentalists are eager to see the plan succeed. With a green movement in place, consumers get to become a part of an ever-changing initiative to improve health standards worldwide.

Similarly, grocery stores and other involved merchants share concerns about the downsides. In their eyes, it is unlikely that shoppers will gravitate towards funding the program.

Based on the findings of a survey, involving U.S. cities, improper plastic bag disposal has become an epidemic. The government is currently funding an annual project to dispose of them properly. If citizens were to support the agenda to use reusable grocery bags such as totes, this could trim down the budget and improve living conditions tremendously.

If the proposal gets approved, New York will join large cities, which include Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles to; bring an end to the paper/plastic bag overuse crisis. It is imminent to limit the use of both plastic and paper varieties in the interest of improving the standards of life. Although the paper bags are not as dangerous as the plastic ones, it does some level of damage sparingly.

Few people acknowledge that these items play a key role in the seriousness of disasters. When citizens do not explore proper disposal methods, they clog drains and create debris on the streets. In the end, it increases the risk to floods in vicinities that are susceptible to flooding. Grocery store vendors are the ones who will receive financial benefits if the order passes successfully.

Uber is a Force to be Reckoned With

Need quality transportation for a special occasion or just to get around town? Download the Uber app. This app allows you to request the type of vehicle you need, arrange a pick-up time and pay for your trip all from your mobile phone. It’s the new way to get access to safe, reliable, transportation and a great customer experience. The app is easy to use and the transportation services are outstanding. They offer access to top quality automobiles driven by courteous, experienced, professionals. All it takes is a few taps and you can have a sleek, beautiful automobile at your disposal.

The company is known for reliable pickups, clear pricing, and convenient, cashless service. And it is growing by leaps and bounds. Ur is currently in 60 cities in 22 countries with plans to expand dramatically within the next few years. Uber gives customers the opportunity to choose from cars ranging from hybrids to limos and plans to offer much more than just quality transportation in the next few years. Founded in March 2009 with a fleet which included BMW 7 series, Cadillac Escalades, Lincoln Town Cars, and Mercedes-Benz S550 sedans, the company now has just about any vehicle you could imagine.

Quick, high-quality service is what has set them apart along with a staff of business heavy-weights with a clear vision for future growth staff; seem to assure a bright future. The Uber brain thrust sees the company on a trajectory similar to Amazon. It’s already hailed as the world’s fastest growing company, with a projected $200 million in annual sales and a valuation of $3.5 billion. And it’s just getting ready to hit its stride. The company envisions being able to deliver everything from food to clothing and small appliances.

To reflect this vision, Uber has changed its motto from “Everyone’s private driver” to “Where lifestyle meets logistics.” It’s also rolling out a new system designed to recruit thousands of drivers and finance brand new vehicles for them at low rates. In return the driver/owners must agree to stay with the company at least until they have paid off the vehicle. This will ensure customers can get any type of vehicle they need in minutes. Once it can provide its growing customer base with good, reliable transportation, it’s on to world domination. Many business-savvy people see the company being worth over $200 billion with 5 years.

IMF Provides Ukraine With Monetary Assistance

Ukrainian leaders received good news last week, when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced that it had approved a “preliminary deal” for the agency to provide billions in IMF funds to enable economic stability to Ukraine as it continues to struggle with Russia over its right to sovereignty.

While the final amount of the aid package won’t be determined until the IMF’s executive board meets in April, sources say the amount will probably be between $14 and $18 billion. At a press conference, IMF Europe Deputy Division Chief Nikolay Gueorguiev stated that the pledged funds would “restore economic stability to Ukraine”, and put Ukraine “on a path of sound governance and sustainable macroeconomic growth to protect the most vulnerable in society”.

Ukrainian leaders have stated that they need as much as $35 billion in international loans to stave off economic collapse. It should be noted that this is not the first time that Ukraine has come to the IMF with their hands out. The country was loaned money by the IMF in both 2008 and 2010, and in both cases, defaulted.

In exchange for these current funds, Ukrainian leaders have agreed to focus on improving their struggling banking and business industries. The IMF money is expected to be particularly helpful in providing capital and liquidity into the country’s banks. Some of the funds will also be applied to Ukraine’s energy industry, in the form of attracting foreign investors.

In all, it’s anticipated that Ukraine may receive as much as $27 billion in donations from various sources over the next two years to assist with economic stability. Contributions from the international community at large may affect the final size of the IMF’s contribution.

The United Kingdom and United States are currently working to put together Ukrainian financial aid packages; although the U.S.’s efforts have been slowed down by what else, internal wrangling between the President and Congress. President Obama wanted any U.S. financial aid deals to include reforms within the IMF itself. In the interest of actually pushing such a package through a recalcitrant Congress however, Democratic leader Harry Reid removed those conditions from the package.

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin, who had proposed that Russia lend Ukraine roughly $13 billion, caved under Western pressure, and agreed to work with the IMF to find funding to ease its woes.

Google Partners with Ray-Ban and Oakley

There has been a good deal of hype around the Google Glass device, which is basically a set of glasses that has a small piece of display glass present and placed slightly in front of the glasses in order to provide information about different locations that a person is walking past, all in real time.

Google Glass has only been in a limited circulation, with a select few able to use the equipment. Those who have experienced wearing Google Glass are turned off by the way the glasses look. They look like a computer nerd soldered the material together in his mother’s basement. For people who are looking to avoid this sort of ‘nerd’ look, Google has been looking for ways to improve the look, all while allowing individuals to still utilize the features of the Glass. This is where both Ray-Ban and Oakley have stepped in.

Ray-Ban and Oakley have remained two of the most popular designers of sunglasses and eyewear in the world. As Ray-Bans provide the forever-classic aviator look and are also extremely desirable in the hipster communities, while Oakley sunglasses are designed more for athletic wear, each have proven to be a popular offering for those looking for specific eyewear. By combining the Google Glass with these popular sunglass manufacturers, Google will be able to revise Google Glass into a product that does not look like it came out of a science fiction movie.

This is not the first time that Oakley has partnered with a company like Google in order to create an improved technological device. Before the era of smartphones, thin flip phones were all the rage. One of the most important flip phone to ever come out was produced by Motorola and was known as the RAZR.

The RAZR set the tone for thin cell phones. Of course, it also had a number of accessories, which included a Bluetooth device that was specifically built and attached to a pair of Oakley sunglasses. Instead of having a clip around the individual’s ear, the Bluetooth headphone simply had a small speaker that spun down from the eyeglasses and fit into the wearers ear. While different than the new partnership with Google, it shows that Oakley has done this before and is willing to make the necessary upgrades for the equipment.

It is yet to be determined what the price will be for these new Google Glass devices.

The Newest in Consumer Technology

Technology continues to change and evolve at a much faster pace compared to the past. This is because computer and chip processing power has advanced to the point where today’s smart phones house more computing ability than a traditional computer from just a decade or so ago. This is what leads to new consumer technology that takes hold of the general population as these new technologies are useful in everyday life.

One such advanced technology that has made its way to the consumer market is cloud storage. This is because cloud offerings, whether via a public cloud, co-lo or managed services provider, was once reserved for business as the cost was prohibitive and the associated software requirements were too complex for the average consumer. However, using cloud services has become easy and thus is a technology that is and will impact the lives of many.

One of the top ways the cloud can be beneficial is through its use for data storage and retention. This is where data files such as pictures, movies and music are stored in the cloud and not locally on devices or in home storage systems. This then removes the need to have bigger memory chips or external hard drives. This is a key technology as more and more people own and store digital data but then tend to run out of room.

The use of cloud storage means that one never has to worry about deleting files or pictures or even music due to space limitations as cloud storage is scalable. One just simply changes their storage plan and opts in to more cloud based storage. The moving of files to the cloud and back out has been made simple as user interfaces that come standard with cloud storage platforms allows one to drag and drop or move files in bulk back and forth and as needed.

This change is how data is stored and accessed means that one can get those files whenever and wherever they so choose as long as a viable Internet connection is available. This truly transforms the way people view their data as no longer do those hard decisions need to be made and no longer is expensive additional on-site storage required.