Two months after he asked the Twitterverse to suggest short-term options for future philanthropy, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos passed along his appreciation for the tens of thousands of responses that were sent in.
“I’m really glad I asked – the responses have been very helpful and have already changes my thinking about how to approach this,” said Bezos, who currently ranks as the world’s third-richest person.
He said there’d be “more to come”:
In June’s opening tweet, Bezos noted that he typically favors “long-term” ventures such as Amazon, The Washington Post and Blue Origin, but that he’s finding himself drawn to “the other end of the spectrum … helping people in the here and now – short term – at the intersection of urgent need and lasting limpact.”
Bezos hasn’t yet made as big an impact in the philanthropic world as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who is pouring billions into global health and education through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. But he has made significant contributions to a broad spectrum of local causes, ranging from Mary’s Place to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to the University of Washington. On the national level, the Bezos Family Foundation focuses on boosting education and child development.
The June 15 tweet attracted about 48,000 replies, and a Silicon Valley company called Unanimous AI put those suggestions through its computer-enhanced crowdsourcing system to figure out which causes rose to the top. The No. 1 goal was providing universal access to clean drinking water. Health clinics, cancer treatment and medical services for the poor also won high ratings.
For what it’s worth, Bezos’ estimated net worth on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index has slipped from $82.8 billion on the day he started soliciting suggestions to $81.3 billion today. (In between, the estimate of his fortune spiked to around $90 billion, briefly making him the world’s richest person. Today Gates holds the top spot with $85.4 billion.)
When Bezos resurfaced the subject over the weekend, many of the replies focused on the plight of Texans caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. So maybe it’s no coincidence that Amazon and Whole Foods today announced a $1 million matching fund for hurricane relief donations to the American Red Cross.