Amazon founder Jeff Bezos plans to give away the majority of his $124 billion net worth during his lifetime, and told CNN in an exclusive interview that he will dedicate the bulk of his fortune to fighting climate change and supporting people who can unite humanity in the face of the depths. social and political divisions.
Although Bezos’ pledge was light on details, this is the first time he’s announced that he plans to part with most of his money. Critics have criticized Bezos for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise by hundreds of the world’s richest people to donate most of their wealth to charity.
EXCLUSIVE: Jeff Bezos gives his advice on taking risks now
– Source: CNN
In an interview with CNN’s Chloe Millas Saturday at his Washington, D.C. home, Bezos, speaking alongside his partner, journalist-turned-philanthropist Lauren Sanchez, said the couple “is building the capacity to be able to donate this money.”
When asked directly by CNN if he intended to donate the majority of his fortune during his lifetime, Bezos said, “Yes, I do.”
Bezos said he and Sanchez agreed to have their first interview since they began dating in 2019 to help highlight the Bezos Award for Courage and Civility, awarded this year to musician Dolly Parton.
The 20-minute conversation with Bezos and Sanchez covered a wide range of topics, from Bezos’ views on political dialogue and a possible economic recession to Sanchez’s plan to visit outer space with a female crew and her thinking about a burgeoning business partnership with Bezos. .
This working relationship was on display on Saturday when Bezos and Sanchez announced a $100 million grant to Parton as part of their Courage and Civility Award. It’s the third award of its kind, following similar grants to chef Jose Andres, who has spent some money making meals for Ukrainians – and climate advocate and CNN contributor, Van Jones.
Sanchez said in the interview, “When you think of Dolly, look, everyone is smiling, right? She just radiates light. And all she wants to do is shine a light on other people’s worlds. And so we couldn’t think of a better person than to give this award to Dolly, And we know she’ll do amazing things with it.”
Bezos said the bottom line connecting Courage and Civility Award recipients is their ability to bring many people together to solve big challenges.
“I feel honored to be able to be a part of what they do for this world,” Bezos told CNN.
Bezos said loneliness is a trait that will be necessary to confront climate change, a trait he has invoked repeatedly when he has criticized politicians and social media for amplifying division.
But the biggest challenge for the couple may be figuring out how to distribute Bezos’ vast fortune. Bezos refused to specify a percentage or provide specific details about where it is likely to be spent.
Despite being the fourth richest person in the world, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos has refrained from setting a target amount to donate in his lifetime.
Bezos 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 priorities is to reduce the carbon footprint of the cement and steel used in construction; push financial regulators to consider climate-related risks; developing data and mapping techniques for monitoring carbon emissions; The construction of natural and plant carbon pools on a large scale.
Although Bezos is now CEO of Amazon (AMZN) rather than CEO — he resigned from that position in 2021 — he is still involved in greening the company. Bezos said Amazon is one of more than 300 companies that have pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 2040 in accordance with the principles of the Paris climate agreement, although Amazon’s (AMZN) footprint will grow 18% in 2021, reflecting a pandemic-driven cyber spread. Trade boom. Amazon’s (AMZN) account of its own climate impact reflects its outsized influence on everything from discussions about unions to antitrust policy, as the company has attracted an enormous level of scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and civil society groups.
Bezos compared his philanthropic strategy to his years-long effort to build a giant e-commerce and cloud computing engine that has made him one of the most powerful people in the world.
“The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a subsidized way,” he said, noting that even as he’s shedding billions, he’s still looking to maximize his comeback. “It’s not easy. Building Amazon wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work, a group of very smart, hard-working co-workers, and I find–and I think Lauren found the same thing–that philanthropy, and philanthropy, are very similar.”
“There are a bunch of ways I think you can do things that are ineffective as well,” he added. “So you have to think about it carefully and you have to have great people on the team.”
Bezos’s methodical approach to giving contrasts sharply with that of his ex-wife, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who recently donated nearly $4 billion to 465 organizations in less than a year.
As Bezos and Sanchez plot out their plans for Bezos’ vast fortune, many people with more modest resources are preparing for what economists fear may be an extended economic slowdown.
Last month, Bezos chirp A warning to his Twitter followers, he recommends that they “pin the slots.”
In the interview, Bezos said the advice was for business owners and consumers alike, noting that individuals should consider putting off buying expensive items they have been looking forward to — or that companies should slow acquisitions and capital expenditures.
“Take some risk off the table,” Bezos said. “Keep some dry powder on hand….A little bit of risk reduction can make all the difference for this small business, if we run into more serious economic problems. You have to play the odds a little.”
He added that many might be upset now, but argued that as an optimist he believed the American dream “is achievable and will become more achievable in the future” — predicting that during Bezos’ lifetime, space travel could become widely available in the public domain.
Sanchez said the pair make “really great teammates,” though she laughed, “We can be kind of boring,” Sanchez said. Bezos smiled and replied, “Never get bored.”
Sanchez, founder of Black Ops Aviation, the first female owned and operated aerial production and photography company, is a trained helicopter pilot. She said in the interview that they took turns in the driver’s seat.
Bezos credited his trip to space for helping inspire his efforts to combat climate change. Now, it’s Sanchez’s turn.
Sanchez told CNN that she expects to venture into a spin-off sometime in 2023. While she didn’t directly address who would be joining her — she quickly dismissed Bezos as a female crewmate — she simply said, “It’s going to be an amazing female group.”
Bezos might add an NFL owner to his resume. CNN recently reported that Bezos and Jay-Z are in talks about a possible joint bid by Washington’s leaders.
It’s not clear if the two have yet spoken to Dan Snyder and his wife Tanya, the current owners of the NFL team, about the possibility.
But during the interview on Saturday, Melas Bezos asked if the speculation was correct.
“Yes, I heard that noise,” Bezos said with a smile.
Sanchez laughed, exclaimed, “I love football. I’m going to throw that out there for everyone.”
Bezos added, “I grew up in Houston, Texas, and played soccer as a kid…which is my favorite sport…so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
CNN’s Chloe Millas contributed to this report
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