Power Players

Twitter billionaire Jack Dorsey on giving away his money: 'If someone is in pain, I am in pain'

Jack Dorsey, chief executive officer of Twitter Inc. and Square Inc., sits for a photograph following an Empowering Entrepreneurs event at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Bloomberg | Getty Images

Twitter and Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey is worth $4.9 billion, according to Forbes.

But the 43-year-old college drop-out says he plans to give away all of his money within his lifetime.

Why? 

"I live by the principle of everything is connected, so if someone is in pain, I'm in pain, ultimately, over time," Dorsey told former Democratic presidential hopeful and universal basic income advocate Andrew Yang on an episode of the "Yang Speaks" podcast published Thursday.

"I want to make sure that I'm doing whatever I can in my lifetime to help that through my companies' works, through my own personal giving," Dorsey told Yang. 

On April 7, pledged (on Twitter, of course) to transfer $1 billion worth of his shares of Square to fund a combination of Covid-19 relief efforts, universal basic income and support for girls' health and education. At the time, that was approximately 28% of his net worth.

  

"I'm in a situation that I never imagined when I was a kid or [even] when I was 25," Dorsey told Yang. "I didn't have any aspect of what money would mean until I was, probably 35." (Dorsey's first appearance on the Forbes billionaires list was in 2012.) 

"I'm so grateful, but part of gratitude is not just saying I'm grateful, it's doing," Dorsey told Yang. 

For Dorsey, that means giving his money to worthy causes. 

"I want to give out all my money in my lifetime. I want to see the impacts, selfishly, in my lifetime," Dorsey told Yang. "I want to make sure that we're helping people."

Dorsey is publicly tracking his $1 billion donation via a Google Doc. Because the contribution is in stock and the value of the stock has increased, the donation is currently worth more than $1.5 billion, according to the Google Doc. So far, $200 million of the stock has been liquidated into cash for dispersal, Dorsey said.

As of Thursday, Dorsey has distributed a bit more than $85 million, according to the Google Doc.

The unconventional tech billionaire did not want to start a foundation because he doesn't want to pay the overhead expenses involved with running a philanthropic organization, he told Yang. 

Giving away his money feels good, Dorsey says, in the same way that creating Twitter and Square and seeing the tech tools being used for the first time feels good.

"When you build something like a Twitter or Square, the greatest value is actually seeing someone else use it. That's what drives us. It feels electric," Dorsey said. "The first time we saw tweets from Iran, it felt electric. It felt amazing." And it felt just as amazing when his mom texted him to tell him that the coffee shop she goes to in St. Louis had started using Square.

"That electricity that I feel in those moments is the same that I'm feeling right now when I give and when I know that these organizations that we're giving to are focused on real impact and doing things that are bigger than all of us and especially me," Dorsey told Yang. 

One of those organizations is Yang's. Dorsey dispersed $5 million to Yang's Humanity Forward initiative, an organization which advocates for the benefits of universal basic income. That money will be given in $250 microgrants to those in need, Yang said.  

 

See also:

What it was like to tell my kids I lost my job: 'Aren't you important' Mom?

Mark Cuban: Here's how to give your kids 'an edge'

Pope Francis: 'This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage'

VIDEO4:1304:13
Jack Dorsey announces $1 billion gift to fight COVID-19
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