Jeff Bezos for the first time says he will give most of his money to charity

CNN Business

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to give away most of his $124 billion net worth during his lifetime, telling CNN in an exclusive interview that most of his wealth will go toward fighting climate change and supporting people who can unite against deep-seated challenges. , spends. social and political divisions.

Although Bezos’ pledge was light on specifics, this is the first time he has announced that he plans to give away the bulk of his money. Critics condemned Bezos for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise made by hundreds of the world’s richest people to donate a large portion of their wealth to charitable causes.

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Exclusive: Jeff Bezos offers his advice on taking risks right now


– Source: CNN

In a sit-down interview with CNN’s Chloe Melas on Saturday at his home in Washington, D.C., Bezos, along with his partner, philanthropist Lauren Sanchez, said the couple is building “their capacity to give back.” this money”.

Asked directly by CNN whether he plans to give away most of his fortune during his lifetime, Bezos said: “Yes, I do.”

Bezos said he and Sanchez agreed to their first joint interview since they began dating in 2019 to help promote the Bezos Courage and Citizenship Award, which was given this year to musician Dolly Parton.

The 20-minute exchange between Bezos and Sanchez covered a wide range of topics, from Bezos’ views on political dialogue and the potential economic downturn to Sanchez’s plan to visit space with an all-female crew and his thoughts on a business partnership with Bezos.

That working relationship was on display Saturday as Bezos and Sanchez announced a $100 million grant to Parton as part of the Courage and Citizenship Award. This is the third award, following similar grants to chef Jose Andres, who used part of the money to cook for Ukrainians — and climate activist and CNN contributor Van Jones.

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“When you think about Dolly,” Sanchez said in an interview, “everybody’s smiling, right? She just shines with light. And what she wants is to light up other people’s worlds. And so we couldn’t think of anyone better to give this award to Dolly, and we know she’s going to do amazing things with it.”

Bezos said what connects the Courage and Citizenship Award recipients is their ability to bring many people together to solve big problems.

“I’m honored to be able to be a part of what they’re doing for this world,” Bezos told CNN.

Unity, Bezos said, is a trait that will be needed to confront climate change, something he has repeatedly invoked in criticizing politicians and social media for widening the divide.

But the couple’s biggest challenge may be figuring out how to divide Bezos’ vast fortune. Bezos declined to specify a specific percentage or provide specific details about how it might be spent.

Despite being the world’s fourth-richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos has declined to set a lifetime donation target.

Bezos has committed $10 billion over 10 years, or about 8% of his current net worth, to the Bezos Earth Fund, which Sanchez co-chairs. Among its advantages are reducing the carbon footprint of construction-grade cement and steel; getting financial regulators to consider climate-related risks; advances in data and mapping technologies to monitor carbon emissions; and large-scale production of natural plant-based carbon tubes.

Although Bezos is now Amazon’s ( AMZN ) chief executive, not its CEO — he’ll step down from that role in 2021 — he’s still involved in greening the company. Amazon is one of more than 300 companies that have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by 2040, Bezos said, though Amazon’s ( AMZN ) footprint will grow 18% in 2021, reflecting the spread of the epidemic. – business development. Amazon’s ( AMZN ) reckoning with its impact on the climate reflects its immense influence on everything from debates about unions to antitrust policy, where the company has attracted a tremendous level of scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and civil society groups.

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Bezos compared his philanthropic strategy to his years-long effort to build a titanic e-commerce and cloud computing engine that has made him one of the world’s most powerful people.

“The hard part is figuring out how to do it with your leverage,” he said, noting that even as he gives away his billions, he’s still looking to maximize his returns. “It is not easy. Building Amazon wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of very smart colleagues, hard-working colleagues, and I understand — and I think Lauren finds the same thing — charity, philanthropy is very similar.”

“There are a few ways I think you can do things that are ineffective as well,” he said. “So you have to think about it carefully and you have to have great people on the team.”

Bezos’ methodical approach to giving differs from that of his ex-wife, philanthropist Mackenzie Scott, who recently gave away nearly $4 billion to 465 organizations in less than a year.

While Bezos and Sanchez plot their plans for Bezos’s vast fortune, many people of more modest means are bracing for what economists fear could be a long-term economic downturn.

Last month, Bezos tweeted A warning to his followers on Twitter, advising them to “batt the hatches”.

The advice is for both business owners and consumers, Bezos said in an interview, suggesting that individuals should consider buying the big-ticket items they’ve been eyeing — or companies should slow their purchases and capital spending.

“Take some risk off the table,” Bezos said. “Keep some dry powder handy…. Just a little de-risking can make all the difference for these small businesses if we face more severe economic challenges. You have to play the odds a bit. ”

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He added that many people feel the pinch now, but claimed that as an optimist he believes the American dream “is and will be even more attainable in the future” – predicting that within Bezos’ lifetime, space travel could become a reality. be widely available. public

Sanchez said the pair would make “really great teammates,” though she laughed: “We can get boring,” Sanchez said. Bezos smiled and replied, “Never boring.”

Sanchez, founder of Black Ops Aviation, the first female-owned and operated aerial film and production company, is a trained helicopter pilot. He said in an interview that both of them took turns sitting in the driver’s seat.

Bezos has credited his personal journey into space for helping to inspire his efforts to fight climate change. Now it’s Sanchez’s turn.

Sanchez told CNN that he expects to reach orbit in 2023. And while she didn’t directly address who would be joining her — quickly ruling out Bezos as a crewmate — she only said, “It’s going to be a great group of girls.”

Bezos can add NFL ownership to his resume. CNN recently reported that Bezos and Jay-Z are in talks about a possible joint bid to Washington commanders.

It’s unclear whether the two have spoken with Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya, the current owners of the NFL team, about the possibility.

But during an interview on Saturday, Melas asked Bezos if that assumption was true.

“Yeah, I’ve heard that,” Bezos said with a smile.

Sanchez laughed and said: “I like football.” I’m just throwing this out there for everyone. ”

Bezos added: “I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I played football as a kid … and it’s my favorite sport … so we’ll have to wait and see.”

— CNN’s Chloe Melas contributed to this report


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