Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced his plans to donate much of his $124 billion fortune to charity, hours before it was reported that his company plans to lay off about 10,000 people.
In an interview with CNN, Mr Bezos said he would donate much of his fortune to help fight climate change and for people who aim to unify humanity. On Sunday, he awarded a $100 million award to musician and philanthropist Dolly Parton.
Meanwhile, Amazon’s reported job cuts could come as soon as this week, the New York Times reported. Those cuts are expected to focus on the company’s devices unit, which houses Alexa, as well as in retail and human resources. The report noted the total number of layoffs remains fluid.
As of December 31, Amazon had more than 1.6 million full- and part-time employees and had recently said it would freeze hiring for the next few months.
The news comes just weeks after Amazon told of a slowdown in growth for the busy holiday season when it generates the highest sales, saying consumers and businesses had less money to spend due to rising prices.
Amazon is the latest US company to make deep cuts to its employee base to brace for a potential economic downturn.
Mr Bezos in a tweet last month said Americans should “batten down the hatches”. He told CNN that he meant people should refrain from making large purchases for the time being.
Tech at large has been hit by big layoffs. Meta is planning to slash 11,000 jobs, and Elon Musk promptly cut half of Twitter’s workers, or about 3,700 people, after he acquired the social media platform.
Although Bezos stepped away from directly managing Amazon in 2021, handing over the reins to current CEO Andy Jassy, Bezos remains executive chairman, and his public persona remains very much intertwined with the company.
Catching up to ex-wife MacKenzie
Bezos has long been criticized for not signing the “Giving Pledge”, a pact many of the world’s richest signed agreeing to give most of their wealth away, and for his high-profile space travel pursuits with his company Blue Origin.
In contrast, ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, who gained $38.3 billion worth of Amazon stock in the couple’s 2019 divorce settlement, quickly jumped into charitable giving, setting a new pace of philanthropic donations. In March, her foundation said she had donated $12 billion, and an update on the same day as Bezos’ latest announcement said she had since donated a further $2 billion in the last seven months, bringing the total to $14 billion.