Full confession: I am not a fan of ballet.

But my wife is, as are many people whom I care about. And I certainly respect ballet as an art form.

So when the ballet company in Silicon Valley shutters its doors for lack of donations, it makes me sad. And it seems emblematic of the problems inherent in the rise of Silicon Valley philanthropy.

The new SV robber barons are mostly engineers, and they believe life is an engineering problem. They were slow to engage in philanthropy in the first place. And once they did, they did so on their own terms. And that meant focusing on things you can count.

What’s the ROI of a presentation of Swan Lake? What’s the metric for success? My guess is that a whole bunch of things that are important to uplifting humanity cannot be forced into the engineering hole. Like art. And culture.

And to say that is distorting philanthropy may be an understatement.

“The stinginess of corporate philanthropy in SV is a disgrace to the region and its residents,” said one area resident.

Sounds about right.