Now with more money than anyone else, Elon Musk faces a new challenge: How to give it away

The richest person on this planet would like your befriend giving freely his billions of greenbacks.

Regarded as one of the first things that Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, did upon mountain climbing to the discontinuance of American capitalism closing week turned into to ask for any advice relating to the manner to climb the ranks of philanthropy. Now that he has additional cash than somebody else on the earth, Musk is inclined to come under some distance bigger scrutiny than he ever has about how he offers it away — or doesn’t.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, whom Musk displaced from the discontinuance ranking, drew increasingly more destructive attention for his penny-pinching philanthropy as he turned wealthier and wealthier, and Musk will presumably come across a same dynamic. Bezos turned to Twitter for advice as that scrutiny mounted, and Musk is following the same playbook.

Btw, predominant suggestions is always tremendous appreciated, along with ways to donate money that truly make a distinction (manner harder than it appears)

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 8, 2021

Musk’s tweet lays bare two truths: He is surely correct that billionaire philanthropy is complex — diverse his fellow tech titans have struggled to present away their money successfully. But it surely’s moreover lawful that many billionaires have declined to present away mountainous portions of their money, in part out of concern of screwing up at making a distinction, and that describes Musk’s possess giving up up to now. Musk has given reasonably cramped portions of his wealth, a historic previous that his tweet and his rise to high-billionaire characteristic is highlighting.

Musk’s predominant charitable car has been the Musk Foundation, which he founded in 2002. In an age of philanthropic showmanship, the Musk Foundation is practically entertaining in its simplicity and yet is strikingly opaque: The total web place is 33 words on a terrifying-textual jabber Yahoo web page with no links, employees recordsdata, or contact varieties (“I wrote that masterpiece myself in HTML 1.0,” Musk mentioned at one point.) All that is integrated is five bullet aspects outlining the fields that the foundation supports.

Musk has moreover signed the Giving Pledge — the commitment to present away no longer no longer up to half of one’s money to charity — nonetheless he’s one of its few signatories no longer to make their pledge letter publicly accessible on the program’s web place.

The fundamental field where Musk has been more voluble, naturally, is on Twitter, where he periodically reveals tidbits about his philanthropic thinking to Tesla fans who beseech him for gifts or predominant aspects. Most frequently he’ll promise to award money from his foundation to followers who tweet at him.

Except 2016, Musk gave reasonably cramped money to his foundation which then gave cramped to nonprofits, basically based completely on the tax filings that foundations need to file. Then in Can even 2016, Musk donated $250 million in Tesla stock to his foundation, nonetheless that money has moreover been unimaginative to safe out the door. So right by way of the 16-365 days interval between the foundation’s founding in 2002 and mid-2018, the closing 365 days on file, the philanthropy has handiest given about $25 million straight to nonprofit groups, with $10 million of that going to enhance OpenAI, a nonprofit founded by Musk and entrepreneur Sam Altman.

After 2016, the foundation routed about $50 million to donor-instructed funds (DAFs), which can perchance well perhaps be separate philanthropic vehicles that don’t describe their gifts and moreover enable foundations to circumvent a requirement to send 5 percent of their property in so much of areas yearly. A Musk spokesperson told Forbes closing 365 days that these DAFs had donated a total of $75 million over their lifetimes to nonprofits.

That $75 million, when blended with his foundation’s $25 million worth of declare gifts by way of 2018, manner Musk has given away about $100 million to charity by way of his foundation and his DAFs. (This identify doesn’t encompass money perhaps donated by his foundation after 2018 or money donated no longer by way of a foundation or DAF.) That math works out to Musk donating about 0.05 percent of his contemporary procure worth to charity up to now. That identify moreover tracks with what Musk has mentioned publicly — in 2018, he mentioned that he had offered about $100 million worth of Tesla stock to finance his charity.

Representatives for Musk didn’t answer to Recode’s query for comment.

Because around three-quarters of Musk’s donations up to now have come by way of DAFs, which don’t have to file same public tax paperwork, it’s harder to trace what particular nonprofits he’s supporting. That’s considerably intentional: Musk has mentioned his grants are “(practically always) anonymous,” even supposing that can handiest be technically lawful for donations from outside the partitions of the foundation (even supposing Musk has mentioned incorrectly that his foundation donations are “anonymous,” too.)

There have been some announcements of main gifts from grantees, even supposing. As well to the $10 million from the foundation to OpenAI, Musk donated no longer no longer up to $10 million to the Future of Existence Institute, which researches safety in artificial intelligence; $10 million for a prize inflamed about promoting world literacy; and $6 million to the Sierra Club, a donation that turned into within the beginning anonymous and then made public after Musk impressed the group to develop so. Musk has moreover mentioned that he’s “one of the discontinuance donors” to the American Civil Liberties Union, with out disclosing a gradual amount.

But these donations all occurred at a quainter time in Musk’s wealth historic previous. Prison a 365 days within the past, Musk turned into testifying under oath that he turned into worth about $20 billion, even supposing as with other billionaire tech founders, most of that money resides in illiquid stock that a CEO is on the general reluctant to sell. Now Bloomberg estimates his procure worth as over 10 cases that.

And as he’s now the enviornment’s wealthiest person, more eyeballs shall be on his every pass. Progressive activists and politicians have increasingly more turned their ire on a pair of high-profile billionaires — sending a guillotine to Bezos’s mansion at one point, as an instance — as a technique to criticize American income inequality. Billionaires, even supposing, have inclined their philanthropy as a counterargument to increased taxes that can shut inequality, pointing to the correct they’re doing as of late for the enviornment with the fortunes.

Musk, who has bristled on the mark “billionaire” and these days moved himself and his foundation to Texas, has mentioned that his mammoth philanthropic investments are peaceable decades away, which can perchance well perhaps frustrate the left. The entrepreneur has mentioned that while he would sell some more Tesla shares “every few years” for philanthropy, “main disbursements” from his charities will handiest are accessible in about 20 years, “when Tesla is in proper command.” That is perchance around when Musk is nearing 70 years inclined.

But he does seem to have a clear knowing of how he desires to use his fortune at that time. He has already outlined two huge buckets for his wealth: half for Earth, and half for Mars.

“Will use that to make lifestyles multiplanetary, befriend training & atmosphere on Earth w my foundation. Prison don’t desire us to be unhappy relating to the future,” he mentioned of his wealth in 2018. “About half my money is meant for issues on Earth, half to befriend keep a self-sustaining city on Mars to be particular continuation of lifestyles in case we safe hit by a meteor or WW3 occurs & we assassinate ourselves,” he told one other follower a pair of months later.

He’s already beginning to make some more gifts. On Friday, Barstool Sports actions launched that Musk had made a fund that it organized to enhance by Barstool Sports actions for cramped companies.

Musk is never any longer as showy with his field topic comforts as other tech billionaires — he’s within the direction of of marketing all of his homes, and has no longer displayed the same taste for yachts or other trifles. From Musk’s point of note, he’s saving up.

“It’s going to take diverse resources to form a city on Mars,” he told an interviewer closing month. “I want so to contribute as considerable as probably.”


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