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Jeff Bezos Is Crowdsourcing Ideas For Major Charity Initiative

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com

Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon.com // Susan Walsh/AP File Photo

Jeff Bezos—CEO and founder of Amazon.com, owner of The Washington Post, and the world’s second-richest person—is crowdsourcing ideas for his next major venture: philanthropy.

On Twitter on Thursday, Bezos asked for ideas “at the intersection of urgent need and lasting impact.”

As Bezos notes, his commercial ventures have tended toward long-term goals such as space travel or converting every last human on the planet into an Amazon Prime member. For his charitable initiative, he is seeking to have a more immediate impact.

Unlike Earth’s first-richest person Bill Gates, whose charitable foundation has a $39.6 billion endowment and is one of the largest in the world, Bezos and Amazon have not been known for public acts of generosity. A profile of Bezos in Inside Philanthropy described him as a “relatively quiet” philanthropist who “believes in the concept of self-reliance.” In the past, the media has criticized Bezos for his poor philanthropic effort: “There are lemonade stands that donate more to charity than Amazon.com does,” wrote a Slate reporter in 2009.

Since then, the Bezos Family Foundation (run by Bezos’ parents) has granted millions of dollars for education. Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos have also donated tens of millions dollars toward health, science and education, according to Inside Philanthropy. He also gave a reported $42 million to fund the Clock of the Long Now, a clock designed to keep time for 10,000 years.

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