Jeff Bezos said he plans to give away the bulk of his fortune during his lifetime in an interview that aired just hours before reports that Amazon.com Inc. plans to cut about 10,000 jobs.
Bezos, the e-commerce giant’s founder and the world’s fourth-richest person, will focus the bulk of his philanthropy on fighting climate change and supporting those who seek to unify people, the billionaire told CNN. It’s the first time he has committed to such a pledge.
Bezos, who’s worth $123.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, said in the interview that he’s also anticipating a recession and that his advice to small businesses is to hunker down and cut expenses.
“The economy does not look great right now,” he said, sitting alongside his partner Lauren Sanchez. “Things are slowing down. You’re seeing lay offs in many many sectors of the economy.”
Amazon’s own job cuts will primarily hit employees in corporate and technology positions and could start as early as this week, the New York Times reported Monday, citing people familiar with the matter that it didn’t identify. It would be the largest number of staff cuts in the company’s history.
This isn’t the first time Bezos has timed a big philanthropic announcement around a period of controversy. Last year, he sandwiched his 11-minute trip to the edge of space, which attracted criticism over his priorities, with news of hundreds of millions of dollars in gifts, including $200 million to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Bezos, 58, has focused more attention on his philanthropy in recent years as he’s also assumed a much larger public role, acquiring the Washington Post newspaper in 2013 as well as luxury homes in New York, Los Angeles and Hawaii. A $500 million yacht he commissioned is under construction in the Netherlands, and he’s among those interested in bidding for the NFL’s Washington Commanders, possibly with music mogul Jay-Z as an investor.
For years Bezos largely stayed on the philanthropy sidelines and drew criticism for not signing the Giving Pledge, a promise by many of the world’s richest people to donate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes. Instead he focused on Amazon and funded Blue Origin, his for-profit space-exploration company.
But Bezos has increased the pace of his giving after stepping down as Amazon’s chief executive officer last year. He set his attention on climate change with his $10 billion Earth Fund, which also aims to help restore nature and transform food systems. Bezos has said he plans to distribute the $10 billion by 2030.
On Saturday, Bezos named Dolly Parton the latest recipient of his Courage and Civility award, handing the music legend $100 million to direct to any charities she chooses. He previously awarded similar amounts to chef Jose Andres, whose World Central Kitchen feeds people in disaster-stricken areas, and Van Jones, the founder of Dream.Org.
His ex-wife MacKenzie Scott has sent more than $14 billion to nonprofits since the two split in 2019, mostly focusing on smaller charities in the US that are often overlooked by larger donors. In a blog post just hours after Bezos’s CNN interview aired, Scott — who signed the Giving Pledge — said she donated almost $2 billion to charities over the past seven months. Bloomberg