UPDATED: Tech companies step in to help Harvey’s victims

Apple has donated $3 million to the American Red Cross.

Posted August 28th, 2017

UPDATED at 5:30 p.m. August 30:

In a memo to employees, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the company has so far donated $3 million to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

Apple had previously pledged $2 million to the American Red Cross over the weekend. This memo explains that Apple will donate another $ 1million thanks to matching employee donations. Apple is matching employee donations two-to-one.

Apple employs more than 8,700 people in Texas. The company’s “global crisis management team” is supporting employees directly affected by flooding, the memo says, including “moving some employees and their family to safety.”

Below is a full version of the memo, a copy of which was obtained by the Statesman:


As you know, Hurricane Harvey is having a devastating impact on Texas and Louisiana. Our thoughts are with our employees in the storm zone and the millions of people whose lives have been disrupted by rain, wind and floods. I want to update you on some of the things Apple has been doing to help, and ways that you can get involved. 

On the ground, Apple’s global crisis management team is working to support our employees directly affected by the flooding in Texas. The team is in close contact with Apple employees in the Houston area, and they’re actively doing everything they can to assist, including moving some employees and their families to safety. Apple employees in the Houston area have generously been helping people displaced by the flooding by opening their homes to team members and their families, and in some cases, assisting in rescue operations. We’re also proud that the US Coast Guard is using Apple products in those efforts, with nearly two dozen USCG helicopters specially equipped with iPads to help coordinate search and rescue teams. 

As Harvey was making landfall, we put in motion critical donation programs. Apple is making it easy for customers to donate directly to the American Red Cross through the App Store, iTunes and, and we’re matching employee donations two-for-one. Thanks to your generosity and that of our users, Apple has helped raise more than $1 million in just the past few days. That’s in addition to the $2 million Apple pledged to the Red Cross over the weekend. 

Though our stores in the Houston area are still closed today, we’re working hard to get as many as possible open tomorrow to serve people who have been impacted by the storm. Our teams are eager to help with problems large and small, and they know there are lots of people in that area who need it. 

I was in Austin the day before Harvey came ashore, and the team was already bracing for the storm and the long recovery. Today that work continues. At our Austin campuses, we are kicking off a donation drive in partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank and Caffè Macs to collect food, diapers and personal hygiene items — all things that are critical in the aftermath of a storm of this magnitude. 

Because Texas is home to more than 8,700 of our coworkers, the storm’s impact is felt by all of us. There’s still much to do, and Apple is committed to help. 


UPDATED at noon on August 30: 

Tech companies in Austin have ratcheted up efforts to support victims in Texas of Tropical Storm Harvey. 

The local chapter of the American Red Cross has launched a “high-tech challenge,” asking tech companies in Austin to raise $500,000 for Harvey victims

Austin startup Dropoff, which specializes in same-day delivery services for businesses, is donating $1 to the American Red Cross for every delivery made. This applies to deliveries across the country, not just in Texas. 

Software company SolarWinds said it would commit $75,000 to disaster relief efforts targeted toward victims of Tropical Storm Harvey.  These funds will go toward the American Red Cross of Central and South Texas, All Hands Volunteers and Feeding Texas. 

In addition, SolarWinds says they are matching U.S. employee donations to these organizations over the next 30 days -- $2 for every $1 spent. 

Meanwhile, Austin-based uShip and other local companies have partnered to collect donations at uShip’s headquarters at 205 E. Riverside Drive. Suggested donations include water, canned goods, toiletries, pet supplies, tools, diapers and soap.

UShip, which operates an online shipping marketplace, is also accepting donations sent via Amazon Prime (to its company headquarters) and cash donations via Venmo (sent to

UShip will collect donations through Friday, then organize the shipment and delivery of them this weekend to Texas-based relief organizations including the American Red Cross and food banks. 

Austin-based online deals site RetailMeNot is matching employee donations and committed $100,000 in employee, customer and corporate gifts. The company says it has raised nearly $40,000 in less than 24 hours.

Dating app Bumble, which is based in Austin, announced on Tuesday that it was donating $10,000 directly to the American Red Cross.

And on-demand delivery apps such as Favor and Uber have also announced efforts to help Harvey victims. 

Uber is donating $300,000 worth of rides, food and relief to people affected by Hurricane Harvey.

“To support displaced families throughout Texas, Uber is donating free rides to or from shelters in multiple cities,” the company said in a statement. “No action is required to receive a free ride to or from these locations. The full discount will be applied and reflected in the app.”

Austin-based Favor, which specializes in on-demand food delivery and has temporarily halted deliveries in Houston, is also encouraging donations to the American Red Cross, blood banks, Feeding Texas and the Texas Diaper Bank

EARLIER: Since reports emerged over the weekend of widespread flooding in Houston due to the never-ending rains of Tropical Storm Harvey, there’s been no shortage of offers to help.

The technology industry in particular was quick to offer donations or assistance, either through direct financial donations, pledges to match donations made by employees, or by tapping into the power of the tech tools at their disposal. 

Apple Inc. on Sunday announced it had set up a way for people to use iTunes to donate to the American Red Cross Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. The company had previously donated money to help with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

Google has donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross and has pledged to match employee donations up to $250,000. Online retailer Amazon has also offered to match employee donations up to $1 million. 

In Austin, several tech companies or tech-affiliated groups have launched efforts to help victims of Tropical Storm Harvey.

Dell Technologies, which is based in Round Rock, has pledged $500,000 to the American Red Cross and Team Rubicon, a disaster response organization staffed by military veterans. They have also set up a relief page on an internal company website where employees can donate. 

In addition, “Dell matches every dollar donated up to $10,000 per team member, per year,” according to a blog written by Corporate Social Responsibility Officer Trisa Thompson, for donations made through the Dell internal website.

The company has 600 employees in the Houston area. 

Tech accelerator Capital Factory hosted a blood drive through the organization We are Blood on Monday afternoon. The blood drive will return to Capital Factory on Friday

“We want to be a central, easily-accessible location for downtown tech folks to help Hurricane Harvey victims,” said Capital Factory’s Liz Coufal. “We would like to get it out to as many people as possible, as the Friday drive will be going on all day.”

If you donate, Capital Factory will let you stick around and use its workspace: “We're giving free co-working on the first floor to anyone that donates blood on Friday. So if they come in to donate blood, they can bring their laptop and finish their work here,” Coufal said.

In addition, Capital Factory is opening its co-working space to workers displaced by Harvey. “They'll have access to the first floor coworking space and all the coffee, snacks and drinks they want,” Coufal said.

Austin-based financial tech startup One Pebble is collecting money to pay for mobile phone chargers. “We are going to help by providing mobile chargers for phones for those who may only have cars to charge their devices,” said One Pebble CEO Michael Robison. 

He established a GoFundMe account set up with a goal of $1,500. “I hope to raise more than that,” Robison said. He added that One Pebble will match up to $1,500. 

One Pebble is also going to buy food and sanitation supplies to distribute through other nonprofit organizations and churches. The Austin-based startup offers artificial intelligence software that helps investors match their money to their values and ethics.

Bunker Labs Austin, the local chapter of an organization that encourages military veterans to pursue entrepreneurship, is also launching efforts to help storm victims in Houston. 

Co-founder Sabrina Marshall Wojtewicz said her husband, who is the executive director of Bunker Labs, traveled to Houston to assess needs. 

She said the plan is to use a retired military vehicle - a five-ton M923 - to bring supplies to Houston on Wednesday.

The Austin Technology Council is turning its sold-out member happy hour on Thursday night into a Red Cross fundraiser. 

A speaker representing the Red Cross will attend the gathering. In addition, the technology council will be sending out mail to its membership list letting them know how to help and asking them to do so, said Barbary Brunner, CEO of the Austin Technology Council.

Outside of the tech industry several major corporations also stepped up to give money to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Companies such as PepsiCo, Walmart and Home Depot, among others, each gave $1 million to the American Red Cross or other relief organizations.