Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has pledged $1bn (£810m) of his personal wealth to help fight the coronavirus pandemic. The chief executive of Twitter and payments Square plans to transfer $1bn in shares to a new company which will initially fund coronavirus aid efforts.
A $100,000 donation from the new limited liability company, StartSmall, has already gone to America’s Food Fund, a project launched by actor Leonardo di Caprio and Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
The shares come from Mr Dorsey’s stake in Square, the mobile payments company he launched in 2010, and he says they amount to 28pc of his wealth. He has a 2pc stake in Twitter, worth $370m, and a 13.6pc stake in Square, worth around $2.6bn.
“The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime. I hope this inspires others to do something similar,” he said in a tweet.
His pledge is one of the most significant commitments of any Silicon Valley leader to fund relief efforts during the pandemic.
Microsoft founder Bill Gates is spending billions from his foundation funding vaccine testing, as well as tens of millions more on researching possible treatments.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg contributed $25 million to Gates’s research efforts, while companies including Apple and Salesforce have made smaller donations to relief efforts in California and abroad.
StartSmall will fund coronavirus efforts until the pandemic is over, and will then move to focus on girls’ education and universal basic income.
UBI, in which all citizens receive a stipend from their government with no means-testing or conditions, is a “great idea needing experimentation,” Mr Dorsey said.
He also shared an online spreadsheet disclosing the number of shares to be transferred and their value, as well as a list of causes the money would support.