Billionaires



May 29, 2019,   11:43 AM

Beyond MacKenzie Bezos: The WhatsApp Cofounder, Crypto Pioneer And Other Billionaires Who Signed The Giving Pledge

Jennifer Wang

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MacKenzie Bezos isn’t the only one signing away a big chunk of her fortune. On Tuesday, 18 other philanthropists joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge, an initiative started in 2010 that asks wealthy individuals to give more than half of their net worth to charity. Though Jeff Bezos’ ex-wife has the most to give—at Amazon's current market cap of $904 billion, her 4% stake is worth around $36.1 billion—other high profile billionaires like Paul Tudor Jones and Brian Acton have also inked their commitment to philanthropy.

The Giving Pledge is not binding—there is no enforcement mechanism, and the assets can by given away while a signatory is alive or after he or she dies. Though many of those who sign the pledge are already philanthropically active, some are just beginning the process. Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett recognized that peer pressure among the ultra wealthy can lead to more giving and that this group can learn from each others’ experiences.

The new signatories include the following:

Paul Tudor Jones: Known for his macro trades, Jones founded hedge fund Tudor Investment Corp. in 1980, and soon earned fame on Wall Street when he foresaw and bet correctly on the 1987 stock market crash. Around the same time, Jones began his foray into supporting educational causes, adopting a class of sixth graders in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, taking the students on ski and overseas trips, organizing report card nights, and promising to pay for their college if they graduated high school. In 1988, Jones went further, cofounding Robin Hood, a New York City anti-poverty charity. The organization gives grants to more than 200 programs that provide services like job training, food and shelter, and legal assistance. Jones, who’s now worth $5.1 billion, helped secure support for Robin Hood from other hedge fund heavyweights such as Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn, Two Sigma’s John Overdeck, and Och-Ziff Capital’s Daniel Och. Jones also created a group called Just Capital, which rates companies on a variety of measures; Forbes has published the Just 100 list since its launch in 2016.

Another hedge fund signatory is United Kingdom’s David Harding, who founded the Winton Group in 1997 with less than $2 million. The London-based firm now manages over $20 billion in assets, giving Harding a net worth of $1.5 billion. A theoretical physics graduate of Cambridge University, Harding and his wife’s David and Claudia Harding Foundation is known for donating to academic research and scientific causes, including a $130 million gift to his alma mater in February 2019.

WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton, who made about $3 billion when he and Jan Koum sold their messaging app to Facebook in 2014, has since focused on another messaging app. The Michigan native quit the social media giant in 2017, leaving $850 million worth of Facebook stock grants on the table after clashing with Mark Zuckerberg over plans to monetize WhatsApp. Shortly afterward, he donated $50 million to create Signal Foundation, a nonprofit that is developing its namesake messaging app with user privacy and data protection as the main goals. Acton also donated $290 million to a fund at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation after Facebook acquired WhatsApp and later moved those assets (held in a donor-advised fund) to Fidelity Charitable.

Other new tech signatories include Pinterest cofounder Paul Sciarra, who became a billionaire after the photo-bookmarking site’s April IPO, and Brian Armstrong, who is worth $1.3 billion after cofounding Coinbase, America’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, in 2012. Six years later, Armstrong launched GiveCrypto.org, which allows people to give cryptocurrency to the nonprofit organization, which then directly distributes cash to people in need. Venture capitalist Chris Sacca, who boasts a $1.2 billion fortune after making early investments in Instagram and Uber through his Lowercase Capital, is also among the signatories. In 2017, he and his wife, Crystal, announced they were stepping back from day-to-day investing to focus on their philanthropic endeavors.

Longtime arts patron and industrialist Mitchell Rales is committing his fortune to charity as well. The chairman of Danaher Corporation, who is worth $4.1 billion, cofounded Glenstone, a private art museum spanning 300 acres in Potomac, Maryland, in 2006. He and his wife have donated more than $2 billion to the arts and education and plan to give away virtually all of their estate.

With today’s additions, the Giving Pledge, which started with 40 members in 2010, now has 204 signatories from 23 countries.



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