Mark Stevens

Mark Stevens

venture capitalist Based in Menlo Park, California, Mark Stevens is a venture capitalist with three decades of experience investing in the technology industry. Currently, he serves as managing partner of S-Cubed Capital and as a special limited partner of Sequoia Capital. He currently  sits on the boards of directors of Second Spectrum, Nvidia, and Innovium.… Continue Reading

Author Archives: Mark Stevens

Spotlight on the Human Prosperity Project at the Hoover Institution

Over the course of the 20th century, socialism and free-market capitalism have presented very different economic and political ideals. Created by the Hoover Institution, the Human Prosperity Project explores historical records to assess the impact of these two economic systems. This fascinating essay series investigates in a scholarly way the consequences of these systems for individual liberty and human welfare. The Human Prosperity Project is just one of the many thought-provoking resources available to the public on the Hoover Institution’s website. Read on for some highlights from this essay series.

Two Philosophies

Hoover Institution

Socialism is a political and economic system in which government or collective control and ownership play a major role in the production and distribution of services and goods, with governments frequently substituting or intervening in markets.

Free-market capitalism, on the other hand, centers around private ownership of production chains, with investment governed by private decisions, and production, prices, and distribution of services and goods determined mainly by competition in a free market.

Advocates of capitalism emphasize the scope for individual freedom and economic growth created by the system. Supporters of socialism extol its egalitarian nature, arguing that socialism is more compassionate than the free market.

A Lesson from German History

Published in September 2020, Russell A. Berman’s essay Leaving Socialism Behind: A Lesson From German History reflects on the demise of the Berlin Wall, which marked the end of communist rule in East Germany and the failure of its socialist economic system. Berman explains that this historic moment in 1989 was a dramatic climax in a long history of civil disadvantages in East Germany, with living conditions in the region deteriorating since its occupation by the Red Army and split from West Germany as the Iron Curtain fell across Europe.

Berman explains that between 1949, when Germany was formally divided, and 1961, when the border was cemented by construction of the Berlin Wall, a constant flow of migrants moved from East to West Germany, abandoning Soviet socialism in favor of western capitalism. Only when the Berlin Wall made it impossible to leave did the East Germans stop “voting with their feet.”

In fact, even once the wall was complete, many East Germans attempted to “flee the republic”—a crime under communist rule for which many were shot. Berman points out that there were no similar stories of westerners seeking to enter East Germany. Indeed, between 1950 and 1989, East Germany’s population fell by 2 million, while West Germany’s population rose by 12 million.

While the streets of West Germany were jammed with expensive cars, trams and buses dominated in East Berlin, with few workers owning their own mode of transport. One journalist from the time described the street-level view of East Berlin as having the appearance of a prison camp, with shabby roads and pavement; gray, unkempt buildings; and military and police at frequent intervals. The source indicated that East Germans did not seem free and that they were reluctant to talk to strangers for fear of drawing attention to themselves.

Political Freedom and Human Prosperity

Larry Diamond, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, examines a critical issue in the comparative study of nations: the correlation between different economic and political systems and human prosperity. He explores whether capitalism is necessary for developmental success, and whether democracy and capitalism are inextricably linked.

In his essay Political Freedom and Human Prosperity, Diamond asserts that socialism rarely delivers prosperity, arguing that a market economy and private property are vital to genuine, sustained developmental progress and civil liberties. Diamond also argues that, in the long term, the best system for promoting human prosperity is democracy, explaining that aside from nations with a vast windfall of natural resources wealth, all of the world’s most prosperous countries are democracies.

Diamond points out that good governance is a crucial intervening variable, with rule of law, transparency, and a just state regulatory environment inviting critical investment and innovation. He cites Singapore as an example of a country that has become rich without democracy, but explains that few other nations could repeat this formula, since in the absence of open ideological and political competition, governments tend to “go bad,” abusing both property rights and civil liberties.

To read more from the Human Prosperity Project, explore its website

About the Hoover Institution

The Hoover Institution is renowned globally for its eminent scholars, library, and archives. This public policy think tank seeks to promote prosperity and economic opportunity, advancing ideas and concepts that ultimately improve the human condition. Simultaneously, the Institution promotes research and scholarship that safeguards peace, not just for America, but for all humankind.

Condoleezza Rice, who has been a member of the Hoover Institution community for more than 30 years, is the organization’s new director. She describes its mission as providing the highest quality research, disseminating ideas to address challenges faced by free people in free societies, and understanding barriers to the advancement of liberty and freedom worldwide. Rice explains that the Hoover Institution matters to free markets, free people, and their futures. In her view, it is also an institution dedicated to preserving history, so that humankind can learn from past experiences, good and bad, and apply them to inform decisions in the present.

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LifeMoves: Working to Help Silicon Valley’s Homeless Community

With the homeless community particularly vulnerable to Covid-19, LifeMoves is doing important work in Silicon Valley. Continue Reading

10 Things You Need to Know about CollegeSpring

This article explores the history and impact of CollegeSpring, an organization that has helped over 30,000 students achieve academic success. Continue Reading

The Facts You Need to Know about Alzheimer’s Disease

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A Look at CAF’s Response to the Pandemic

In this article, we look at the Challenged Athletes Foundation’s response to the global outbreak of Covid-19. Continue Reading

Spotlight on the WVCS Covid-19 Relief Program

We investigate how West Valley Community Services (WVCS) is supporting families throughout the West Valley throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Continue Reading

5 Silicon Valley Nonprofits You Need to Know About

Benefiting causes including everything from homelessness to college preparedness, these five organizations support communities in Silicon Valley. Continue Reading

Parents Helping Parents: A Vital Resource for Parents of Children with Special Needs

We look at the work of Parents Helping Parents, exploring how this Bay Area non-profit supports parents of children with special needs. Continue Reading

7 of the Best American Charities Serving People Facing Homelessness

From Covenant House to LifeMoves, we look at seven American charities that help people facing homelessness. Continue Reading

CollegeSpring: Democratizing College Test Prep for Low-Income Students

We look at the work of CollegeSpring, an American organization that helps young people prepare for exams, paving the way for a college education. Continue Reading

7 Bay Area Nonprofits & Charities You Need to Know About

In this article, we look at seven charities and nonprofits in the Bay Area, from educational organizations, to food banks, to parent support groups. Continue Reading

West Valley Community Services: Halting Hunger in Santa Clara County

West Valley Community Services (WVCS) serves the communities of Saratoga, West San Jose, Cupertino, Monte Sereno, and Los Gatos in California’s Santa Clara County. Continue Reading

5 American Charities Working to End Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a progressive, irreversible brain disorder that impairs memory and cognitive function. Over time, it affects a person’s ability to complete the simplest tasks. Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know About the Team Up! Campaign

The Team Up! campaign encourages US Olympic Committee employees to get involved and give back to Team USA. In this article, we look at the work undertaken under the Team Up! campaign, and how the US Olympic and Paralympic Foundation goes above and beyond to support athletes across the USA. Continue Reading

Parents Helping Parents Supports People With Disabilities Amid the Pandemic

A 501(c)3 organization based San Jose, California, Parents Helping Parents aims to provide vital services to enable families and communities to help adults and youth with special needs to build a better and brighter future. Continue Reading

Everything You Need to Know About St. Denis Parish Church

In this article we look at the history of St. Denis Catholic Church, exploring the vital contributions made through its outreach programs, which support individuals facing difficulties and the entire community of Menlo Park. Continue Reading

What is the Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020?

The Supporting Older Americans Act of 2020 was just passed into law. Here’s how it will improve support for people with Alzheimer’s. Continue Reading

Amador Valley Investment Club Host Q&A With Mark Stevens on Venture Capital and Covid-19

Mark spoke to students from the Amador Valley Investment Club as well as other high schools virtually on May 27th, 2020. Continue Reading

Spotlight on the YMCA Covid-19 Childcare Program

In this article, we look at the YMCA Silicon Valley’s Covid-19 Childcare Program, which provides childcare for essential and frontline workers. Continue Reading

Mark Stevens Spoke to Graduates During the University of Southern California’s 2020 Student Athlete Graduation

Mr. Stevens recognized this year’s record-breaking number of Stevens Scholars, who have demonstrated athletic and academic excellence by graduating with a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher. Continue Reading

Spotlight on the Penninsula Arts Guild Non-Profit

We look at the Peninsula Arts Guild and its work converting Menlo Park’s Guild Theatre into a top-tier live music and entertainment venue. Continue Reading

Spotlight on Second Harvest of the Valley

A nonprofit organization, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley aims to eradicate food poverty. Learn about the food bank’s role in the community. Continue Reading

Learn about the San Francisco Symphony, including its history, educational programs, and internationally renowned Youth Orchestra.

Learn about the San Francisco Symphony, including its history, educational programs, and internationally renowned Youth Orchestra. Continue Reading

Everything You Should Know About Parents Helping Parents

Learn about the work of Parents Helping Parents, a California-based nonprofit that supports the parents of children with special needs. Continue Reading

9 Things You need to Know About YMCA Silicon Valley

Since 1867, the YMCA has been listening and responding to the needs of people living in San Jose and the South Bay Area. We look at the organization’s vital work, helping young people reach their true potential and improving health and wellbeing within the local community. Continue Reading

8 of the Facts You Need to Know About Cristo Rey San José Jesuit High School

Cristo Rey San José Jesuit High School is a Jesuit Catholic school located in Santa Clara Street, San José, California. Here’s how the school empowers students from underserved communities, spiritually preparing them to become accomplished leaders committed to the lifelong pursuit of learning, justice, and faith. Continue Reading

Spotlight on the Challenged Athletes Foundation

The Challenged Athletes Foundation’s moto is “Empowering Lives Through Sport.” We look at the organization’s activities, which inspire people with physical challenges in America and around the world to get active and participate in sports. Continue Reading

This Is What You Need to Know About the Team Behind the Team VIP Weekend 2019

The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Foundation was founded in 2013. This 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization is Team USA’s chief source of philanthropic support. It generates important financial resources that enable Team USA athletes to attain their full potential, both within and outside of their chosen sports. Continue Reading

Mark and Mary Stevens – The Giving Pledge

“We are proud to join Warren Buffett, Bill and Melinda Gates and the others who have committed to the Giving Pledge. My wife, Mary, and I feel very fortunate and blessed that we find ourselves, at a relatively young age, to be able to give our time, treasure and talent to a variety of philanthropic… Continue Reading

Mark and Mary Stevens Champion Philanthropy at USC and Beyond

Their generosity has endowed several programs and centers important to USC’s future. MARK STEVENS ’81, MS ’84 and his wife, Mary, are committed to the Giving Pledge, a promise among the world’s wealthiest people to commit more than half of their fortune to charitable causes that leave the world a better place. “There are three things you… Continue Reading