Novelist MacKenzie Bezos, one of the world’s wealthiest women, has signed the Giving Pledge – a commitment to give nearly half of her $35 billion in assets to charity over the course of her lifetime or beyond (in her will). Even as her ex-husband, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos who also happens to be the world’s richest man, marches on unperturbed – having declined to sign the pledge for years now.
MacKenzie Bezos’s commitment comes less than two months after she finalized her divorce from Jeff Bezos, raising more questions than it answers. The Giving Pledge was founded nine years ago, and the Bezos couple had almost as much time to commit – and yet, they did not. The fact that Jeff Bezos has been often criticized for donating only a small fraction of his wealth to date and MacKenzie Bezos giving away (figuratively speaking) half of her wealth soon after parting ways, doesn’t bode well for the world’s richest man. At a time when there’s growing debate whether CEOs like Jeff Bezos should be able to accumulate such fortunes in the first place.
MacKenzie Bezos makes no such mention in a carefully-worded letter announcing her plans though.
“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand. 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," MacKenzie Bezos writes in the letter.
It’s no secret that their divorce has been one of the costliest splits in world history – but clearly, with the pledge, MacKenzie Bezos is setting a bigger example. Something that even the likes of Silcon Valley giants Sergey Brin or Larry Page have failed to set.
The latest addition in the name of MacKenzie Bezos takes the total number of Giving Pledge signers to over 200 – that's worth over $500 billion in commitments. The numbers may seem huge, but sadly they don''t even cover 10 per cent of the world’s billionaires. Clearly, there’s a long way to go – hopefully more people like MacKenzie Bezos will step up and do the needful.