MacKenzie Bezos to give away her other half of the billions
So why has Jeff Bezos himself not done the same?
This year MacKenzie Bezos became one of the world’s richest women through divorce, getting $35.6bn of her husband Jeff’s Amazon fortune.
On Tuesday, she announced half of it would be given away.
Her decision to join the Giving Pledge, a scheme that gets millionaires and billionaires to donate 50% of their money to charitable causes, was widely hailed after being announced on Tuesday.
Yet it has also cast a new light on the decision by Jeff, the world’s richest man, not to adopt the pledge himself.
He is the only one of America’s top five billionaires not on the list.
MacKenzie, a 49-year-old novelist, explained her thinking in an open letter about the decision.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” she wrote.
“In addition to whatever assets life has nurtured in me, I have a disproportionate amount of money to share.
“My approach to philanthropy will continue to be thoughtful. It will take time and effort and care.
“But I won’t wait. And I will keep at it until the safe is empty.”
Jeff’s own fortune, estimated at about $114bn according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, comes from the online retailer he founded and of which he remains chief executive. The 55-year-old also owns The Washington Post.
The Bezoses announced their separation in January after the tabloid magazine National Enquirer prepared to reveal a relationship between Jeff and another woman.
The statement announcing the end of a 25-year marriage said the pair would remain “cherished friends”.
A settlement a few months later suggested the split had been amicable.
Jeff’s philanthropy came under scrutiny in 2017 when The New York Times approached him with a series of questions seeking more information about his little-known charitable contributions.
Shortly afterwards, he issued a call on Twitter for people to share their ideas for philanthropy, saying he was thinking about a strategy “that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time – working on the long term”.
He went on: “For philanthropy, I find I’m drawn to the other end of the spectrum: the right now. If you have any ideas, just reply to this tweet.”
Last September, a year after asking for ideas, Jeff launched a new fund, committing an initial $2bn to projects, including helping the homeless and setting up new preschools.
The move meant the Bezoses donated more money than anyone else in 2018, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, a group that tracks charitable gifts.
Why Jeff has not decided to sign up to the Giving Pledge, which sees people promise to give away half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will, is unclear.
Both Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, who created the scheme, have signed up...