GIVING BACK

Jeff Bezos is crowdsourcing ideas for a major charity initiative

Jeff Bezos—CEO and founder of Amazon.com, owner of the Washington Post, and the world’s second richest person—is crowdsourcing ideas for his next major venture: philanthropy.

In a note posted to Twitter on Thursday (June 15), Bezos asked for ideas “at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

As Bezos notes, his commercial ventures have tended towards long-term goals such as space travel or converting every last human on the planet into an Amazon Prime member. For his charitable initiative, he is seeking to have a more immediate impact.

Unlike Earth’s first-richest person Bill Gates, whose charitable foundation has a $39.6 billion endowment and is one of the largest in the world, Bezos and Amazon have not been known for public acts of generosity. A profile of Bezos in Inside Philanthropy described him as a “relatively quiet” philanthropist who “believes in the concept of self-reliance.” In the past, the media has criticized Bezos for his poor philanthropic effort: “There are lemonade stands that donate more to charity than Amazon.com does,” wrote a Slate reporter in 2009.

Since then, the Bezos Family Foundation (run by Bezos’ parents) has granted millions of dollars for education. Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos have also donated tens of millions dollars toward health, science, and education, according to Inside Philanthropy. He also gave a reported $42 million to fund the Clock of the Long Now, a clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years.

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