周五,2017年12月15日,
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杰夫·贝佐斯现在是世界上最富有的人,他可以重新定义慈善事业

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jeff bezos As the world’s richest person, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could transform how philanthropy works. David Ryder/Getty Images

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is now the world’s richest person on the heels of the company’s third-quarter earnings report.
  • Bezos is likely to retain the title for the foreseeable future, and it could upend how billionaires view charity.
  • Unlike Bill Gates, who has focused on long-term projects, Bezos could focus more on the short-term.

A surge in Amazon stock following the company’s third-quarter earnings report, has increased CEO Jeff Bezos’ net worth by $6.4 billion, to $90.6 billion, officially making him the world’s richest person.

Bezos displaced Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, whose net worth is $88.5 billion according to Bloomberg data, and the new distinction could fuel his interest in furthering human progress through for-profit companies — efforts that could shift how the world’s wealthiest think about philanthropy.

“I think his activities to date suggest he looks at some of his business investments as opportunities to advance social change,” Jane Wales, CEO of the Global Philanthropy Forum, told Business Insider.

Amazon’s agreement to buy Whole Foods, announced June 18, initially sent the online retailer’s stock skyrocketing. It also increased Bezos’ net worth by $1.8 billion, to $84.6 billion. At the time, that was $5 billion behind Gates. His net worth briefly eclipsed Gates’ in July, after the second-quarter earnings were released.

Bezos’ plan for business investments to double as forms of social change was evident in his buying The Washington Post in 2013. He quickly turned it into a lean, digital journalism powerhouse — something other large news organizations have struggled to do. Similarly, the Whole Foods purchase may hint at Bezos’ desire to reinvent the food industry’s supply chain. (At the very least, he has the opportunity to do so.)

Wales says Bezos’ business plays offer a window into how he could cement his status as one of the most influential players in the philanthropy world, independent of the Bezos Family Foundation that’s run by his parents. In fact, Bezos may already be looking to take on more projects. Recently, he asked his nearly 300,000 Twitter followers for ways to generate a lasting impact with quick, decisive action.

“I’m thinking about a philanthropy strategy that is the opposite of how I mostly spend my time — working on the long term,” Bezos wrote. “For philanthropy, I find I’m drawn to the opposite end of the spectrum: the right now.”

That approach could encourage more short-term solutions to problems typically thought of as systemic, Wales said, and that could be a good thing. She pointed to the ongoing migrant crisis as one example.

“That requires action now. Governments are overwhelmed, and policy is not solving it,” Wales said. “The Bezos Family Foundation, which is mostly long-term in its thinking, is also giving to the International Rescue Committee, to Save the Children, to CARE — to organizations that address the immediate as well as the long term.”

jeff bezos Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie Bezos. Danny Moloshok/Reuters

Other billionaires, on the other hand, are sticking to big-picture work. Bill and Melinda Gates are trying to end polio once and for all, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan are trying to eradicate disease and improve education

But Bezos is new to the philanthropy world — he isn’t involved with his parents’ foundation — and people just starting out in the field often take a year or two to get the lay of the land and form a strategy. Judging by Bezos’ past business moves, his style of philanthropy might involve private investments in startups looking to do social good, or acquisitions of other companies.

Warren Buffet Bill Gates Bill Gates and his longtime friend Warren Buffett. Rick Wilking/Reuters

Not everyone in the philanthropy community is optimistic about Bezos’ influence, however.

Larry Brilliant, the acting chairman of the Skoll Global Threats Fund, criticized Bezos’ crowdsourcing approach.

“The denominator of ideas you will get in, the vast majority of ideas which are not good, not viable, will flood this process,” Brilliant told The New York Times in June.

And in a recent open letter to Bezos in Forbes, the philanthropy adviser Jake Hayman took issue with the notion that focusing on short-term goals can yield lasting impact.

“It’s the business equivalent of looking for ‘safe, proven investments’ with imminent 10-fold returns,” Hayman wrote. “It doesn’t happen.”

Bezos is not participating in 该捐赠誓言, a pact among 16 billionaires (including Warren Buffett and Zuckerberg) to give away at least half of their fortunes before they die. But Wales contends that Bezos still can send a strong signal to wealthy Silicon Valley types that philanthropy matters.

“He is young, he is in the midst of his career, and he’s already seen as bold,” she said. “What that tweet says to me is: ‘I do not want to ignore today’s problems.'”

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