What would you do right now if you had $1 billion to spare?
It comes in the form of almost $1 billion in Square stock (worth $997.8 million), which Dorsey says amounts to about 28 percent of his personal wealth, and which Dorsey says he'll transfer to a private company to handle the disbursements.
Most notably, every step along the way will apparently be detailed in a publicly available Google spreadsheet.
Dorsey made the announcement (where else?) in a Twitter thread, promising to "mov[e] $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief."
If there's anything left over afterward--"after we disarm this pandemic," as Dorsey put it, "the focus will shift to girl's health and education, and UBI [universal basic income]."
I'm moving $1B of my Square equity (~28% of my wealth) to #startsmall LLC to fund global COVID-19 relief. After we disarm this pandemic, the focus will shift to girl's health and education, and UBI. It will operate transparently, all flows tracked here: https://t.co/hVkUczDQmz-- jack (@jack) April 7, 2020
Dorsey isn't the only billionaire stepping up, of course.
Over the weekend, I reported on Bill Gates's plan, through his foundation, to spend billions building seven Covid-19 vaccination manufacturing facilities--despite knowing that at least five of them will amount to wasted efforts.
The reason, Gates, explained, is to save months--so "we don't waste time in serially saying, 'OK, which vaccine works?' And then building the factory."
As a percentage of his net worth, however, Dorsey's gift appears quite generous. (The dollar amounts square, no pun intended, with most public estimates of Dorsey's net worth that I can find.)
That said, I think the transparency involved here, if it pans out as promised, might be the thing people wind up remebering or even imitating.
Why the transparency? It's important to show my work so I and others can learn. I've discovered and funded ($40mm) many orgs with proven impact and efficiency in the past, mostly anonymously. Going forward, all grants will be public. Suggestions welcome. Drop your cash app ;)-- jack (@jack) April 7, 2020
It's easy to be skeptical when very wealthy people announce charitable work.
You might wonder if there's something in it for them that we don't realize (perhaps an ownership interest or other marketing bonus).
In fact, even though publicly funded charitable organizations under section 501(c)(3) under the U.S. tax code are required to file annual, publicly available reports on their income and dispersements, an entire industry exists to audit them and help donors make good decisions.
So, it's intriguing that Dorsey found this unusual way not just to be transparent, but to use a rival company's tool, which millions of other people use every day.
"Why now?" Dorsey wrote on Twitter. "The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime. I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let's do everything we can today to help people now."