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 he will spend most of his wealth fighting climate change and supporting people who can unite humanity against the world. social and political divisions.
Although Bezos’ promise was light on details, this is the first time he has announced that he plans to give away most of his money. Critics urged Bezos not to Take the Pledge, a pledge hundreds of the world’s richest people make to donate most of their wealth to charitable causes.
Exclusive: Jeff Bezos gives 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, DC, Bezos, speaking with his partner, journalist Lauren Sánchez, philanthropist Lauren Sánchez, said the couple is “building the ability to be able to give away. this money.”
When asked directly by CNN if he intends to give away most of his wealth within his lifetime, Bezos said: “Yes, I do.”
Bezos said he and Sánchez agreed to their first interview together since they started dating in 2019 to help spotlight the Bezos Courage and Civility Award, which was presented this year to singer Dolly Parton.
The 20-minute exchange with Bezos and Sánchez covered a wide range of topics, from Bezos’ views on political dialogue and a possible economic recession to Sánchez’s plan to visit outer space with an all-female crew and her thoughts on a successful business partnership with Bezos. .
That working relationship was on display Saturday when Bezos and Sánchez announced a $100 million grant to Parton as part of their Courage and Civility Award. This is the third such award, following similar grants to chef Jose Andrés, who spent part of the money making meals for Ukrainians – and climate advocate and CNN contributor Van Jones.
“When you think of Dolly,” Sánchez said in the interview, “Look, everybody smiles, right? She is just beaming with light. And what she wants to do is bring light into other people’s lives. And so we couldn’t think of a better person to give this award to Dolly, and we know she’s going to do great things with it.”
Bezos said that the triline that connected the grantees of the Courage and Civility Award was their ability to bring many people together to solve big challenges.
“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 necessary to combat climate change and a trait he has repeatedly insisted on as he pressures politicians and social media to widen the divide.
But perhaps the couple’s biggest challenge is how to distribute Bezos’ vast fortune. Bezos declined to identify a specific percentage or provide concrete 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 refrained from setting a target amount to give away in his lifetime.
Bezos has pledged $10 billion over 10 years, or about 8% of his current net worth, to the Bezos Earth Fund, which Sánchez co-chairs. Its priorities include reducing the carbon footprint of construction grade cement and steel; pushing financial regulators to consider climate-related risks; promoting data and mapping technologies to monitor carbon emissions; and building natural plant-based carbon sinks on a large scale.
Although Bezos is now Amazon’s ( AMZN ) executive chairman and not CEO — he stepped down from that role in 2021 — he’s still involved in the company’s shutdown. Amazon is one of more than 300 companies that have pledged to reduce their carbon footprint by 2040 in accordance with the principles of the Paris Climate Agreement, Bezos said, although Amazon’s (AMZN) footprint increased by 18% in 2021, which shows e. – booming commerce. Amazon’s (AMZN) account of its own effect on the climate shows its profound impact on everything from debates about unionization to antitrust policy, where the company has drawn an enormous level of scrutiny from regulators, lawmakers and civil society groups.
Bezos compared his philanthropic strategy to his efforts over the years to build a titanic engine of e-commerce and cloud computing that has made him one of the most powerful people in the world.
“The hardest part is figuring out how to do it in a leveraged way,” he said, suggesting he still wants to maximize his return even as he gives away billions. “It’s not easy. Building Amazon wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of really smart teammates, hardworking teammates, and I’m finding – and I think Lauren is finding the same thing – that charity, that philanthropy, is very similar.”
“There’s a lot of ways, I think, that you could do ineffective things 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 stands in sharp contrast to that of his ex-wife, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who recently gave nearly $4 billion to 465 organizations in less than a year.
While Bezos and Sánchez plot out their plans for Bezos’s vast wealth, many in smaller ways are anticipating what economists fear could be an extended economic downturn.
Last month, Bezos tweeted warned his followers on Twitter, urging them to “press the essays down.”
The advice was meant for business owners and consumers alike, Bezos said in the interview, suggesting that individuals should think about big-ticket items they expect to buy — or that companies should consider their acquisitions and slow capital expenditures.
“Take some risk off the table,” Bezos said. “Keep some dry powder handy…. A small risk reduction could make the difference for that small business, if we face even more serious economic problems. You have to play the odds a little bit.”
Many may be feeling the pinch now, he said, but he insisted that he believes as an optimist that the American Dream “is and will be even more attainable in the future” – predicting that space travel could be accessible for the most part within Bezos’s lifetime. public.
Sánchez said the couple make “great teammates,” though she laughed, “We can be kind of boring,” Sánchez said. Bezos smiled and replied, “Never boring.”
Sánchez is a trained helicopter pilot and the founder of Black Ops Aviation, the first female-owned and operated aerial film and production company. She said in the interview that they both took turns in the driver’s seat.
Bezos has credited his own trip to space with helping fuel his push to tackle climate change. Now, it’s Sánchez’s turn.
Sánchez told CNN that she hopes to go into orbit herself sometime in 2023. And while she didn’t say exactly who will be joining her — without a quick stop on Bezos as a crew member — she simply said: “It’s going to be a great group of women.”
Bezos may be adding NFL owner to his resume. CNN recently reported that Bezos and Jay-Z are in talks about a possible joint bid for Washington Commanders.
It is unclear whether 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 asked Bezos if the speculation was true.
“Yeah, I’ve heard that buzz,” Bezos said with a laugh.
Sánchez leaned in with a smile, “I like football. I’m going to throw that out there for everybody.”
Bezos added, “I grew up in Houston, Texas, and I played football as a kid… and it’s my favorite sport… so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
– CNN’s Chloe Melas contributed to this report