Jeff Bezos made a fortune selling stuff online to American consumers. Now he’s turning to the masses for ideas on how to give some of it back.
Amazon.com Inc.’s billionaire founder tweeted a plea for ideas — from anyone — on how to spur immediate change through charity work. That request drew some 10,000 comments as of Thursday evening from people espousing aid for everything from homeless youths and the LGBT community to random cash payouts for Americans.
“I find I’m drawn to the other end of the spectrum: the right now,” he said in a post to his 230,000 followers. “I want much of my philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now — short term — at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”
Bezos’s philanthropic urges come as he edges closer to becoming the world’s richest person, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Currently at No. 2 with an estimated net worth of $82.8 billion, Amazon’s chief executive officer joins other Silicon Valley corporate chieftains such as Bill Gates in exploring ways to share their wealth. In addition to being a benefactor of Princeton University, his alma mater, the Amazon chairman supports efforts such as cancer research. In his Twitter post, he held up Mary’s Place — a homeless shelter his company backs — as an example of the sort of work he now favors.
Bezos, an infrequent tweeter, started asking for ideas after the New York Times inquired about his level of giving, according to an article by the newspaper. Bezos said that while he’s usually drawn to working on long-term challenges, he’s looking for ideas with more of an rapid impact.
“And if you think this approach is wrong, would love to hear that too,” Bezos wrote.