Updated: April 8, 2020 10:12:21 am
Jack Dorsey pledged $1 billion of his stake in Square Inc., the payments firm he co-founded, to coronavirus relief efforts, the largest pandemic-related donation yet.
“I hope this inspires others to do something similar,” Dorsey said Tuesday in a tweet. “Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now.”
It will likely take several quarters or even years to complete the transfer, according to a Square spokesperson. The proceeds from the initial sales will fund coronavirus relief efforts. So far, $100,000 has been donated to America’s Food Fund to “help fund meals to people impacted by COVID,” according to a publicly available spreadsheet Dorsey linked to in his tweet.
“After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl’s health and education, and UBI,” Dorsey said in the tweet, referring to universal basic income, the idea that all citizens should be provided with a certain amount of money each month. The pledge represents about 28% of his wealth, he said.
Dorsey has been working from his home in San Francisco’s affluent Sea Cliff neighborhood, following shelter-in-place orders that are keeping many people from their regular activities. Also the co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc., he has a net worth of about $3.9 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The bulk of his fortune — about $3 billion — is made up of Square equity.
Shares of San Francisco-based Square, which were little changed during regular trading, dropped about 1% in the extended session.
While other billionaires have announced significant donations to combat the pandemic and the anticipated economic turmoil, Dorsey’s pledge is by far the biggest so far. Before his announcement, $2.85 billion had been committed in the U.S. by companies, public charities, family foundations and individuals, according to Candid, a nonprofit research and support organization.
Amazon.com Inc.’s Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, is donating $100 million to Feeding America. Michael and Susan Dell have committed another $100 million, mostly for global relief efforts. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged a similar amount to develop a vaccine and pay for detection, isolation and treatment initiatives. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan announced a $25 million commitment last month to help research a possible drug for Covid-19. The couple’s philanthropic organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is working with Bay Area hospitals to offer free Covid-19 tests.
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This is not the first time Dorsey has announced a large stock pledge. In 2015, shortly after Twitter cut roughly 8% of its employees, Dorsey said he was donating almost $200 million in Twitter stock back to the employee grant pool.
“I’d rather have a smaller part of something big than a bigger part of something small. I’m confident we can make Twitter big!” he tweeted at the time.
On Tuesday, Dorsey wrote that he wants to be more transparent with his philanthropy so he and others can learn from it, adding that he’s donated $40 million in the past, mostly anonymously.
Across the world, there have been more than 1.41 million virus cases and over 81,000 deaths. The San Francisco Bay Area, where Dorsey and his companies are based, had some of the earliest U.S. cases and authorities in the region took aggressive action to rein in the virus.
Aside from the physical and mental toll the virus will take, the economic impact is also severe. The U.S. jobless rate has jumped to 4.4% — the highest since 2017 — from a half-century low of 3.5%, and is expected to surge in coming months.
“Why now?,” Dorsey said in his Tuesday tweet. “The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime.”
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