Valley Voice
Go West!

Kanye West has publicly tapped Mark Zuckerberg for a billion dollars. The equally bold and destitute rapper unmasks Facebook's marketing myth of saving the world.
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Ever since venture capitalist Ben Horowitz started quoting hip hop lyrics in his business blog, rap has become socially accepted in Silicon Valley. “Rappers are celebrating having nothing while aspiring to have everything“, Horowitz told me when we sat down once. "Every entrepreneur should learn from that“. Horowitz aka MC Tic Toc knows what he is talking about. He used to rap on stage himself.

Now Kanye West has taken the idea of "longing to have everything“ a little too far. He tweeted that he's carrying 53 million dollars in debt and asked the founder of Facebook for money. "Mark Zuckerberg invest 1 billion dollars into Kanye West ideas after realizing he is the greatest living artist and greatest artist of all time“. Is this guy desperate, crazy or just unbearably bold?

A little bit of everything, I guess. For all that matters, the provocation had the intended publicity effect. It was a huge promotion for his new album "The Life of Pablo“. And everybody is wondering how a seemingly successful artist manages to drive his accounts into depths. But the far more interesting effect was something, West himself might not have intended. Or maybe he did.

The real question is: Why shouldn’t he? Why shouldn’t the cash-strapped rapper ask Mark Zuckerberg for money? Isn’t the young billionaire giving away 99 percent of his Facebook shares for charitable causes? Isn’t Facebook itself out for good?

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Why don’t we all ask Zuckerberg for money? I for example really need some furniture. I think „Free Basics“ should definitely include kitchen equipment. Go West!

For all it’s worth, West also has the right intentions, according to his tweets: "Mark, I am publicly asking you for help … I know I can make the world a better place“.

Es gibt auch eine deutsche Version dieser Kolumne.

Britta Weddeling is a technology journalist with Handelsblatt, Germany's #1 business daily, based in San Francisco. She is author of a weekly English tech column called "Valley Voice" and contributes every week to a podcast at a major German radio station (Deutschlandradio,"Was mit Medien").

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