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Jeff Bezos says he will give away most of his fortune – GeekWire

Jeff Bezos spoke in New York City on Sept. 20, 2021 to announce $1 billion in grants from the Bezos Earth Fund. (Bezos Earth Fund Photo)

Jeff Bezos will be giving away most of his fortune.

The Amazon founder revealed the news for the first time in an interview with CNN published Monday.

“We’re building the capacity to be able to give away this money,” said Bezos, who spoke to CNN with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez.

He did not provide specifics on where the fortune would go.

“The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way,” he told CNN. “It’s not easy. Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work, a bunch of very smart teammates. I’m finding — and I think Lauren is finding the same thing — that philanthropy is very similar.”

Bezos is the fourth-richest person in the world with a net worth around $121 billion as of Monday morning, according to Forbes. That’s down from a peak of more than $200 billion last year, as the tech stock slump — Amazon shares are down more than 40% in the past year — has cut tech billionaire fortunes.

As Bezos’ Amazon fortune has grown, there have been growing questions about his approach to philanthropy. In 2017, he solicited suggestions for philanthropic strategies — and followed up in 2018 with the unveiling of a $2 billion Day One Fund to promote innovations in preschool education and affordable housing.

In 2020 Bezos launched the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund, pledging some of his money to grants aimed at addressing climate change.

In addition to his philanthropic giving, Bezos has put billion of dollars toward his Blue Origin space effort.

Bezos this weekend announced a $100 million gift to music legend Dolly Parton, as part the latest “Courage and Civility Award.” He previously gave $100 million each to chef Jose Andres and political commentator Van Jones, to direct the funds to charities of their choice.

Bezos has not signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment that hundreds of wealthy people have made to donate more than half of their money to philanthropic causes. Bezos’ ex-wife MacKenzie Scott, along with Bill Gates, Melinda French Gates, and Warren Buffett are among the signees. Scott has given away more than $12 billion to a wide range of charitable and nonprofit organizations over the past three years following her divorce from Bezos in 2019.

Bezos remains chairman at Amazon after stepping down as CEO last year.

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