Jeff Bezos is Crowdsourcing his First Major Philanthropic InitiativeBy Michael Contreras
Since founding Amazon in the 1990s then embarking on the 21st century commercial space race, Jeff Bezos has significantly transformed the world we live in today. Now, Bezos wants to change the world in another meaningful way: philanthropy. However, instead of making a decision behind a closed-door meeting with the elite, he is seeking input from the public on how to optimize his benevolence.
Unlike fellow billionaires, Bezos is seldom in the news for philanthropic efforts, until recently. Last month, he published a note via Twitter, asking the public for suggestions for “philanthropic activity to be helping people in the here and now.”
This gesture is surprising for two reasons. First, Bezos is not someone who acts in the short-term. He even admits it in his note: “I’m thinking about a philanthropic strategy that is opposite of how I mostly spend my time – working on the long term.” Given his immense success on such long-term projects (Amazon, Blue Origin, Washington Post), committing massive amounts of money for immediate impact seems uncharacteristic of him. Secondly, it is rare for billionaires to consult the public in such an open forum on how to best pledge their funds. Bezos seems to be embracing the tenet of Joy’s Law and the bedrock behind the success of crowdsourcing - the notion that the smartest people do not exist in one’s immediate network.
Despite the fact that Bezos can acquire top talent for his various enterprises, he is adopting a more democratic solicitation method for this particular initiative.
If you have an idea for a charitable approach you wish Bezos would pursue, do not hesitate to make a suggestion! All you have to do is tweet in response to his request.