Jeff Bezos is making headlines.
Last month, the tycoon warned of a deteriorating economy, advising businesses and consumers to prepare for tough days ahead. Interest rates are aggressively raised against inflation which, at its highest in 40 years, threatens to plunge the economy into recession.
“Yep, the probabilities in this economy tell you to batten down the hatches,” Bezos posted on Twitter on October 18.
A few days later, Amazon confirmed that economic activity would slow down sharply in the coming months, and gave a disappointing forecast for the end-of-year holiday season.
This dire announcement, along with the tightening of the company’s austerity cure, had a strong impact on Amazon shares. This caused a decrease in Bezos’ wealth, whose fortune depends much on his shares of the company. The billionaire is only the fourth richest man in the world, with an estimated fortune of $124 billion as of Nov. 13, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
For the past few days, Bezos has also been in the news as it is rumored that he might bid or the NFL franchise Washington Commanders, in partnership with billionaire rapper Jay Z.
The tech tycoon has just taken back control of his news coverage by announcing that he will award the Bezos Courage & Civility Award, which recognizes leaders who “pursue solutions with courage and civility”, to singer Dolly Parton. This award comes with $100 million that the recipient donates to charities of their choice.
“I think people who are in a position to help should put their money where their heart is. I will do my best to do good things with this money,” Parton said in a video of the ceremony.
Bezos launched this award in 2021. The first recipients of this award are activist Van Jones and humanitarian leader José Andres, who established World Central Kitchen, a non-profit organization which provides food in poor countries.
The billionaire saved the best for last. He has just pledged to donate the majority of his large fortune during his lifetime, to fight climate change and reduce inequalities around the world.
The announcement was made during an interview with CNN who asked him if he will give away most of his wealth during his lifetime, Bezos then replied: “yeah, I do.”
He declined to elaborate on how he will donate the money and what it will be spent on, saying: “the hard part is figuring out how to do it in a leveraged way.”
He continued: “It’s not easy. Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of very smart teammates, hard-working teammates, and I’m finding — and I think Lauren [Sanchez, his partner] is finding the same thing — that charity, philanthropy, is very similar.”
“There are a bunch of ways that I think you could do ineffective things, too,” the billionaire told CNN. “So you have to think about it carefully and you have to have brilliant people on the team.”
This is the first time Bezos has made such a pledge. He has always been criticized in the past for not having signed the Giving Pledge, which is an organization that encourages wealthy people to pledge a large part of their wealth during their lifetimes. His ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, who redefined philanthropy by giving directly to nonprofits, and billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett signed this pledge.
Bezos was also strongly criticized for spending his money on funding space travel, instead of solving problems on Earth.
The billionaire has already pledged to donate $10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund, a foundation he launched in 2020 to fight climate change.
His new vow comes the same day that Amazon, of which he is now only the executive chairman, is said to announce massive job cuts.