Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos says he will commit $2 billion to helping homeless families and starting preschools for low-income communities. When Seattle passed a tax in May on large companies to fight the city's growing homelessness crisis, Amazon balked and even temporarily halted construction planning on a new high-rise building near its headquarters.
"Never have I been more comfortable at an Amazon board meeting!" he wrote on Instagram. The Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as the world's largest private nonprofit foundation has an endowment worth over $40 billion U.S. and has long supported homelessness services for families in the city.
He said the cash will also provide funding to launch and operate "a network of high-quality, full-scholarship" pre-schools in "underserved communities". The fund's vision statement comes from non-profit Mary's Place in Seattle: no child sleeps outside. "The secret sauce of Amazon - the number one thing that has made us successful has by far is obsessive, compulsive focus on the customer".
With a little more than three months left in the year, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos says he still intends to announce a decision on where its second headquarters will be located before the new year.
His net worth has risen by US$64.7 billion this year alone as Amazon's shares surged.
Bezos drew laughs with a joke about his wealth, saying he ran into Gates recently and the topic of world's richest man came up.
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But Bezos did receive kudos today for taking an important step into philanthropy.
To support his point, Bezos, the richest person in the world, used Boeing as an example. "They're still going to want a big selection". "The media is going to be fine", Bezos said, according to AFP, before paraphrasing Post editor Marty Baron: "The administration may be at war with us, but we are not at war with the administration".
Bezos held true to that word, even jokingly pushing back on the smattering of boos that came from the D.C. crowd when he declined to reveal the victor of the HQ2 contest.
Many Twitter users agreed with that reasoning. "If billionaires like Bezos were properly taxed then we wouldn't need billionaires like Bezos to sweep in and "rescue" people failed by our underfunded systems," one wrote.