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I didn’t know what to expect when I ponied up the $45 dollar per ticket admission for my wife and I to attend the Silicon Valley Rocks charity concert benefiting Music in Schools Today(MUST).  MUST, which provides music education programs for underserved schools, is a worthy cause in and of itself, and I was truly impressed with the event.

Randi Zuckerberg Belting Out A Song

Randi Zuckerberg decked out in her finest cocktail dress and showing off her skills (from BusinessInsider.com)

We here at Ongig have a good cause baked into our business model, and really believe that out here we all can do more to help others.  That being said, the evening was fraught with surprises about the inner workings of the Silicon Valley tech community.

Here are five of the most surprising things I learned:

  1. Silicon Valley is a small place.  I was pretty impressed with a certain singer who made a grand entrance down the stairs wearing a fancy black cocktail dress whilst her band played in jeans and t-shirts.  I later realized the singer in question was none other than Randi Zuckerberg (more on this in a second), and that one of my friends who works for Google knows her on a personal level.  There might be a huge influx in startups out here right now, but people still take the time to network around town.
  2. Randi Zuckerberg is a legitimately very very talented singer (although maybe a little overdressed).  She killed it.  I have no other words to describe the performance by the sister of quite possibly the heir apparent to the late Steve Jobs.  Well, she certainly stepped out from his shadow on this evening.  Wow.  I thought I was watching an audition for American Idol, and not one of the bad ones.
  3. Not everyone is holed up in a dark room writing code all day — some are practicing music.  I was really impressed with the overall talent level.  There is a stereotype that tech and startup founders and employees live a solitary existence, eating junk food, not shaving, and committing line after line of code to their product.  Well, I am not saying that does not happen at times, but judging by the overall talent level, energy and wardrobes, a lot of effort is clearly reserved for recreational pursuits.   My favorite rock band was 100% (although not my overall favorite act).  They were clearly a real band with a lot of talent that did not treat the event like a Bar Mitzvah or wedding — something I was worried about going in.
  4. People will put aside petty differences for a good cause.  Moving out here some months ago, I was really worried by how competitive it would be.  Clearly, one of the biggest rivalries around right now is between Google+ and Facebook.  I was very surprised and impressed when the band Coverflow, notably comprised of Facebook employees and investors, gave a big shout out to some Googlers in attendance.  The evening was all about togetherness for a good cause.
  5. People really care.  This may seem like a retread, but I was really blown away with my tech brethren setting aside their competitive differences for a night in favor of raising money for an awesome cause.
On a side note, my winner was Allen Mask, a hip hop group comprised of google employees.  Who knew right?

Kevin Lanik

Kevin is a co-founder and lead engineer of Ongig and has served as an enterprise-level software engineer for more than 8 years. He was most recently Systems Engineer for Jackbe Corp., a leading provider of Business Intelligence software used by Qualcomm, NASA, the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army. Before Jackbe, Kevin was Systems Engineer for Autonomy Corp.,a leading enterprise information management company acquired by H-P for $11.7 billion in 2011. Kevin began his career as a computer engineer at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. Kevin is also recognized as an expert at APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) and his creation of the FourSquare mobile application SingleSquare earned him an invitation to demo at the “App Circus” of the popular South by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas in 2011.

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