Jack Dorsey puts 28pc of his wealth behind Covid-19 relief

8 Apr 2020

Image: © itchaznong/Stock.adobe.com

Twitter boss Jack Dorsey has committed $1bn to a new philanthropic venture called Start Small, which aims to tackle issues that have arisen from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Late on Tuesday (7 April), Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced that he plans to put 28pc of his wealth behind coronavirus relief programmes.

Dorsey, who is worth around $3.9bn according to Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index, has said that he will donate $1bn in shares from his mobile payments company Square into a new limited company he has created called Start Small.

Future Human

Start Small will be used to make grants to beneficiaries, funding global Covid-19 relief efforts, and all donations will be tracked in a publicly accessible Google document.

Dorsey’s investment

Dorsey said that transparency is important in this project because he wants to show the work that he has done in order to help others learn from it.

“I’ve discovered and funded ($40m) many orgs and proven impact and efficiency in the past, mostly anonymously,” Dorsey tweeted. “Going forward, all grants will be public. Suggestions welcome.”

In a series of tweets, he explained that he used shares from Square rather than Twitter because he owns a significantly larger portion of Square. “I’ll need to pace the sales over some time. The impact this money will have should benefit both companies over the long term because it’s helping the people we want to serve,” he added.

Dorsey said that after the pandemic is “disarmed”, the fund will focus on girls’ health and education, and universal basic income (UBI).

“Why UBI and girl’s health and education? I believe they represent the best long-term solutions to the existential problems facing the world. UBI is a great idea needing experimentation. Girl’s health and education is critical to balance,” he wrote.

“Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent and I want to see the impact in my lifetime. I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now.”

High-profile contributions

In recent weeks, other tech leaders and public figures have donated to various Covid-19 relief efforts. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, who is worth around $120bn, has pledged $100m to American food banks through non-profit Feeding America.

Michael and Susan Dell have committed $100m to global relief efforts, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged support to help develop a vaccine and pay for isolation and treatment efforts.

Tech companies such as Facebook, Tesla, Microsoft and Netflix have contributed to relief efforts. This included a $100m coronavirus relief fund set up by Netflix to offer funding to out-of-work cast, crew and production teams. Outside of tech, celebrities such as Dolly Parton, Rihanna, Oprah and Lady Gaga have made significant pledges.

The New York Times noted that Dorsey’s contribution stands out “for the sum he is putting in and for how much of his net worth that represents”.

According to Dorsey’s Google document, the first $100,000 of the Start Small fund has gone to America’s Food Fund to help provide meals for people impacted by Covid-19. This fundraiser began as a GoFundMe page set up by Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs. As of today (8 April), the fund has raised $13.3m.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic