Jeff Bezos has committed to giving away “the majority” of his $116 billion fortune in his lifetime – but when it comes to signing the Pledge, the Amazon founder is staying mum.
The pledge, launched by Bill Gates and Warren Buffett in 2010, is a campaign that encourages billionaires from all industries to commit to giving at least half of their fortune to charity during their lifetime.
Notably, it is a non-binding commitment: its founders describe it as a “moral commitment,” and critics argue that its loose rules lack enforcement. So far, it has been signed by 236 billionaires, including Gates and Buffett, as well as Elon Musk and Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott.
But Bezos, whose recent announcement follows years of criticism over his relative lack of philanthropic giving, is not the only billionaire who has not signed the pledge. It lacks the signatures of seven of the world’s 11 richest people, based on this week’s Bloomberg billionaire list.
None of the seven responded to CNBC’s Make It request for comment.
Here’s who they are and what their humanitarian efforts look like up to this point.
Bernard Arnault: net worth of $157 billion
Bernard Arnault is the co-founder and CEO of the luxury goods conglomerate LVMH and the second richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg.
In the past, the French billionaire’s net worth has reached $200 billion. He has topped Bloomberg’s list of the world’s richest people several times, most recently in 2021.
Arnault has not signed the Giving Pledge, nor has he commented on the pledge publicly. There is no public record showing the amount of what Arnault has given to charity.
However, LVMH has posted a statement online highlighting the company’s humanitarian mission and noting the Arnault family’s high-profile $226 million donation in 2019 to help fund repairs to Paris’ iconic Notre Dame cathedral, after a fire devastatingly damaged the landmark that year.
Gautam Adani: net worth of $130 billion
Gautam Adani is the chairman and founder of the Adani Group, one of India’s largest industrial conglomerates. He is the richest person in India and the third richest in the world, according to Bloomberg.
His net worth has almost doubled since this time last year, as his company has made a series of acquisitions to expand into industries such as coal and transport.
He has also increased his philanthropic efforts over the past year: In June, he pledged a $7.7 billion donation to his Adani Foundation, a philanthropic arm of his company that supports social causes in India such as education and health care programs.
Jeff Bezos: net worth of $116 billion
Bezos has given away more than $2.4 billion during his lifetime, Forbes estimates. He has also committed to handing out a total of $10 billion through his own climate non-profit, the Bezos Earth Fund.
But the billionaire has avoided questions about the Giving Pledge for years, especially after his ex-wife, Scott, signed it shortly after their 2019 divorce.
Scott has gone on to become one of America’s most famous philanthropists. Bezos’ critics are still waiting for him to offer more concrete details on how he plans to distribute his vast fortune to charitable causes.
Without those details, it’s hard to understand how his announcement last week differs from signing the Giving Pledge, and why he made such a similar commitment without joining many of his fellow tech billionaires.
Larry Page: net worth of $88.7 billion
In 2014, Google co-founder Larry Page said he did not intend to leave all of his wealth to his two children. He wasn’t committed to leaving his net worth to charity, either.
Instead, the billionaire said in a TED interview that he would rather hand over most of his fortune to entrepreneurs who have big ideas to change the world for the better. At the time, Page named Elon Musk as one example: “He wants to go to Mars. That’s a worthy goal.”
In 2019, Vox reported that Page had given over $2 billion to his own philanthropic organization since 2004. The vast majority of those contributions ended up in donor-advised funds, which critics argue can be used as vehicles for tax reductions.
Mukesh Ambani: net worth of $88.2 billion
Mukesh Ambani, the ninth richest person in the world, is the chairman of Reliance Industries, an energy and telecommunications conglomerate and India’s most valuable company.
He was recently named one of India’s most generous philanthropists by research group Hurun India, having donated more than $50 million to charity earlier in 2022.
In 2010, Ambani founded Reliance Foundation, the philanthropic arm of his company and one of India’s largest nonprofits. The foundation focuses on initiatives that provide health care and educational scholarships, as well as agricultural infrastructure in rural farming communities, according to its website.
Steve Ballmer: net worth of $86.3 billion
Steve Ballmer’s absence from the Giving Promise might be surprising: He was one of Microsoft’s earliest employees, rising to the role of president and Gates’ right-hand man before succeeding his friend as CEO in 2000. Most of Ballmer’s fortune comes from of his 4% stake in Microsoft.
But Ballmer has said he and Gates have “drifted apart” since he retired from the company in 2014, which may explain why he hasn’t signed the pledge Gates co-founded.
Today, Ballmer serves as chairman of the Los Angeles Clippers of the NBA, which he bought in 2014. He is also quite active in the field of philanthropy: he and his wife, Connie, run the nonprofit Ballmer Group, which has awarded over $ 420 million in charitable grants over the past year, according to the group’s website.
Sergey Brin: net worth of $84.9 billion
As a co-founder of Google Page, Sergey Brin has not signed the Giving Pledge. The 11th richest person in the world, Brin has not spoken publicly about the pledge or how much he plans to give away during his lifetime.
In the past, Brin has given money to causes including STEM-focused educational nonprofit Girls Who Code and a reported $63 million donation earlier this year to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, which funds research into a cure for Parkinson’s disease.
In 2009, Brin also donated $1 million to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, an organization that helped him and his family escape the Soviet Union and immigrate to the United States when he was a child.
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