Many of Silicon Valley's biggest companies are absent from San Jose flood-relief efforts

In the month since floods devastated several San Jose neighborhoods, dozens of businesses in the region have opened their wallets to aid recovery efforts, but some of Silicon Valley's largest employers — among them, Apple, Applied Materials, Nvidia, Google, Oracle and Facebook — appear not to have donated a dime to the primary relief fund.

As a counter to those companies that did not contribute, more than 70 businesses and organizations gave something to aid those affected by Feb. 21 floods that submerged entire neighborhoods along San Jose’s Coyote Creek. The worst-in-a-century floods forced the evacuation of 14,000 people and caused an estimated $73 million in damage.

Some local corporations are offering donations while some of the biggest ones haven't… more

"Unfortunately, the needs of our flood survivors outweigh the resources we have available – particularly when it comes to securing housing for the hundreds of residents who still cannot return home," the Mayor's office sent in a statement to the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

About 1,500 residents remain displaced, according to Mayor Sam Liccardo’s office.

Liccardo on Monday said that the flood relief will depend on the private sector, since the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) won't cover all lossse due to "its pre-existing guidelines."

"It appears only a limited number of residents will qualify for other loans so we depend on the generosity of our community," Liccardo said.

Silicon Valley companies that have not donated

As of Friday, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation had received about $6.3 million — $5 million from a single Los Angeles billionaire — from 2,895 contributions. Fewer than 25 for-profit businesses have donated monetary funds to the community organization. Those numbers do not include donations made to individual nonprofits like the Red Cross.

To figure out who's donated, the Silicon Valley Business Journal gathered data from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara and Sacred Heart Community Service. We also reached out directly to the region's largest employers.

Here's a rundown of some prominent locally-based companies that are missing from the relief roll call:

  • Applied Materials, one of the Bay Area's largest public companies with $10.83 billion in revenue in 2016 and 3,400 employees, shows no record of having contributed and has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
  • Nvidia, with $5.01 billion in revenue last year and 3,800 Silicon Valley employees, did not make a donation to the flood-relief efforts. The company does have a general donation-matching option for employees, one representative said.
  • Intel Corp., the fifth-biggest tech employer in Silicon Valley with 6,400 employees and $59.4 billion in revenue, didn't donate any money, although the Santa Clara-based semiconductor giant said that it "facilitated" volunteers.
  • DPR Construction, Silicon Valley's largest private company with $3 billion in revenue and 2,600 Bay Area employees, hasn't responded to our outreach.
  • Some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies and largest employers, including Cupertino-based Apple, Mountain View-based Alphabet and Redwood City-based Oracle, also do not appear to have donated. Officials from those company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Facebook Inc. also did not give monetary aid to the flood relief efforts. Instead, the Menlo Park-based social media giant said it considers its safety check tool, in which Facebook users can mark themselves "safe" after a natural disaster or other crisis, as its "contribution" to flood relief efforts.

"The community activated Safety Check for the San Jose flood... we have seen more than 700 listings of offers for help," a Facebook spokesperson told the Silicon Valley Business Journal. "We are constantly inspired by the generosity of the Facebook community during times of need."

Auto dealers group leads local donation effort

The Silicon Valley Auto Dealers Association donated $100,000 to the community foundation's fund — the most of any Silicon Valley organization — immediately after the disaster unfolded. The association is a nonprofit representing 61 car dealers in Santa Clara Country.

Here's a rundown of some prominent locally-based companies that are missing from the relief roll call:

  • Applied Materials, one of the Bay Area's largest public companies with $10.83 billion in revenue in 2016 and 3,400 employees, shows no record of having contributed and has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
  • Nvidia, with $5.01 billion in revenue last year and 3,800 Silicon Valley employees, did not make a donation to the flood-relief efforts. The company does have a general donation-matching option for employees, one representative said.
  • Intel Corp., the fifth-biggest tech employer in Silicon Valley with 6,400 employees and $59.4 billion in revenue, didn't donate any money, although the Santa Clara-based semiconductor giant said that it "facilitated" volunteers.
  • DPR Construction, Silicon Valley's largest private company with $3 billion in revenue and 2,600 Bay Area employees, hasn't responded to our outreach.
  • Some of Silicon Valley's biggest tech companies and largest employers, including Cupertino-based Apple, Mountain View-based Alphabet and Redwood City-based Oracle, also do not appear to have donated. Officials from those company did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Facebook Inc. also did not give monetary aid to the flood relief efforts. Instead, the Menlo Park-based social media giant said it considers its safety check tool, in which Facebook users can mark themselves "safe" after a natural disaster or other crisis, as its "contribution" to flood relief efforts.

"The community activated Safety Check for the San Jose flood... we have seen more than 700 listings of offers for help," a Facebook spokesperson told the Silicon Valley Business Journal. "We are constantly inspired by the generosity of the Facebook community during times of need."

Auto dealers group leads local donation effort

The Silicon Valley Auto Dealers Association donated $100,000 to the community foundation's fund — the most of any Silicon Valley organization — immediately after the disaster unfolded. The association is a nonprofit representing 61 car dealers in Santa Clara Country.

“When a tragedy like this comes along, it’s just something we thought we should do to take care of our own in our community,” the group's president, Stephen Smith, told the Business Journal. "It’s part of our family and in our backyard.“

Smith said he was surprised that more tech companies haven't contributed. “We thought we would really get things going and thought there would be a lot more tech firms," he said. "We’re just kind of confused why some of the tech firms aren’t contributing into the fund."

San Jose-based PayPal contributed $25,000 to the flood relief fund and launched a campaign page allowing employees to donate, which the company says it will match.

“San Jose is our home and we continue to strive to assist members of our community that have been impacted by recent storms and flooding," the company told the Business Journal. "As part of our response effort, PayPal mobilized resources to help those in need during this difficult time." The funds will be dispersed to organizations providing emergency shelters, medical supplies and food, the company said.

Health care giant Kaiser Permanente Northern California, which has 12,500 employees in the region, said in February that it had donated $50,000 to the flood relief fund and that it was "supporting ongoing recovery efforts."

San Jose-based Brocade Communication Systems and Santa Clara-based ON Semiconductor each gave $10,000 to the fund. Downtown San Jose-based Adobe Systems said it contributed $50,000 to aid in flood relief and said it will match employee donations through its existing matching program. It wasn't immediately clear which organization Adobe had donated to.

"I am very grateful that some of the largest employers like Adobe, PayPal, Western Digital and Brocade were very generous in giving," Liccardo said on Monday. "Unfortunately we know the need is greater."

Western Digital, which is based in Irvine but has offices in Mountain View and San Jose, contributed $25,000 to the fund. SAP, which has offices in Palo Alto, gave $25,000 through its foundation.

The biggest total contribution thus far came earlier this month from Los Angeles County billionaire Kieu Hoang, who owns Shanghai RAAS Blood Products. He pledged $5 million, including an immediate $2 million donation, after reportedly talking with friend and co-founder of San Jose-based Lee's Sandwiches, Chieu Van Le, about the devastation.

Employees stepping up

As of Friday, Cisco's foundation had raised a total of $74,424 distributed among multiple organizations, which includes $37,212 from employee donations, the San Jose company said. The foundation launched a matching gift campaign to match collective employee donations up to $100,000, which was an increased from the initial campaign matching of up to $25,000.

Cisco said it also reached out to employees to send Spanish and Vietnamese speakers they knew to volunteer in aid and cleanup.

Santa Clara-based Palo Alto Networks said it would match up to $10,000 in employee donations.

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation fund website also provides the names of five other companies that say it will match employee giving: Brocade, Lam Research, Netscout Systems Inc.(which also gave $5,000 directly to the fund), Structural Integrity Associates and Symantec Corp., which said it has offered to match individual employee donations of up to $1,000 .

Other forms of support

According to the City of San Jose's website, 21 businesses offered discounted or free services as contributions. Those companies include local supermarket chain Mi Pueblo San Jose, which donated bottled water; Orchard Supply Hardware, which gave $30,000 in supplies and materials for neighborhood and park cleanups; Home Depot, which donated over $10,000 in supplies for helping in debris removal and clean-up; and Rick's Furniture, which discounted furniture for flood victims.

San Francisco-based Lyft offered free rides to families affected by the floods.

Last month, eBay, which said it made a $25,000 corporate donation to the SVCF fund, also said it featured the American Red Cross on its charity website's landing page, where shoppers can donate by way of “rounding up their purchase.”

The Red Cross and Catholic Charities of Santa Clara declined to disclose donation figures, citing donor privacy.

Still in need

Sacred Heart Community Service said it has received $2.2 million from from the SVCF's fund, and as of Friday, distributed $1.611 million to flood victims. All of the funds will go directly to flood victims, the organization said.

There is still need in the community for further aid, especially when it comes to housing, said Caroline Ocampo, chief communications officer for Catholic Charities of Santa Clara. "Currently, we are in dire need of housing because many of the families are still camping with family and friends and have no permanent place to reside while their apartments are being renovated," she said.

Liccardo said he reaches out to many large employers for help for initiatives throughout the year and that he understands that some employers have a philanthropic focus and "won't get involved in every initiative".

"We try to align our requests with their [companies] core focus," he said. "I’ll continue to reach out to see what we can do to help families."

Other areas where a need remains include help with home repairs, displaced residents, and volunteers, according to the city, which said those who wish to donate are encouraged to do so through the San José Flood Victims Relief Fund website administered by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

For a complete list of donors, as researched by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, click here.

Editor's note: This story was based on information provided to the Silicon Valley Business Journal from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and other groups. We recognize that relief efforts can take many forms and in case we've missed the contributions of a local business, please contact reporter Jennifer Elias at jelias@bizjournal.com.

Jennifer Elias is a technology reporter for the Silicon Valley Business Journal.

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