Dorsey gives $1 billion COVID-19 fight
Bitcoin,  Innovators

Jack Dorsey will ‘start small,’ giving a quarter of his fortune to COVID-19 fight, girls education

The Twitter and Square CEO will also support universal basic income, says he wants to see philanthropy’s ‘impact in my lifetime’

A lot of celebrities have been pounded on social media lately for posts encouraging people to stay home and even donate to coronavirus charities from the comfort of their mega-mansions.

On April 7, Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey went all Bill Gates on them, announcing on his @jack account that he will give $1 billion—more than a quarter of his fortune—to fight the COVID-19 epidemic. After that, the funds will be used to advance health and education initiatives for girls, and advocate for universal basic income (UBI).

Of course, Bill Gates has called on billionaires to leave at least half their wealth to philanthropic causes, and Dorset “only” gave away 28%. On the other hand, The Giving Pledge calls for the donations to be made only after the philanthropist’s death, when it’s no longer of use to them.

Bitcoin champion Dorsey has done it at 43, while he’s still in his prime and helming both Twitter and mobile payments firm Square. Famed philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, by contrast, didn’t start building libraries until he sold his company at 65.

Dorsey, who was No. 5 on the Modern Consensus Most Influential People in Crypto 2020 list, gave three reasons for his early start including “increasingly urgent” needs and to inspire others to follow suit. 

The third, he said was that “I want to see the impact in my lifetime.” 

He added: “Life is too short, so let’s do everything we can today to help people now. 

$1 billion is not “starting small”

The ironically named Start Small foundation—#StartSmallLLC—is set to receive 19,883,400 shares of Square, currently valued at more than $1.1 billion according to the publicly accessible Google document on which Dorsey said all “transfers, sales, and grants will be made public.”

Dorsey gives $1 billion COVID-19 fight

As for his choice of post-coronavirus causes, Dorsey said he believes “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.”

As for his decision to fund Start Small with Square shares only,  Dorsey tweeted that the reason was simply that he owns “a lot more of Square.”

Of course, it’s likely he wants to hang on to every Twitter share he can after Elliott Management Corp., an activist investor firm, announced in February that is seeking to fire him as the social media firm’s CEO. 

Square’s biggest product, the Cash App payments platform, lets users hold, buy, and sell bitcoins.

And that’s a bigger part of its business than many of its 24 million users—as of the beginning of this year—might think.

According to Square’s Q4 2019 shareholders letter, bitcoin transactions accounted for $178 million. That’s nearly half of Cash App’s $361 million net revenue.

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Leo Jakobson, Modern Consensus editor-in-chief, is a New York-based journalist who has traveled the world writing about incentive travel. He has also covered consumer and employee engagement, small business, the East Coast side of the Internet boom and bust, and New York City crime, nightlife, and politics. Disclosure: Jakobson has put some 401k money into Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.