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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey joins billionaires, celebrities aiming their wealth at coronavirus devastation

Dorsey said he would move $1 billion of his Square equity to a limited liability company, Start Small

In tweets Tuesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he would move $1 billion of his Square equity to a limited liability company he created called Start Small. (Jim Watson/Afp Via Getty Images)

Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey has set aside $1 billion for coronavirus relief and other charitable causes, joining the fray of business tycoons and celebrities aiming their wealth at mitigating the outbreak’s economic and societal harm.

Dorsey’s pledge — equivalent to more than a quarter of his wealth — is among the largest yet from an individual since the onset of the pandemic. In tweets Tuesday, the CEO said he would move $1 billion of his equity from Square, a digital payments platform, into a new limited liability company called Start Small.

After the virus is contained, the funds will be dedicated to girls’ health and education, as well as universal basic income, a model through which people would receive regular cash payments from the federal government. The concept popularized by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang is “a great idea needing experimentation,” Dorsey wrote.

The Trump administration is rolling out a $2 trillion rescue package to shore up the hardest-hit corners of the economy. The pandemic has shuttered entire industries and put millions of Americans out of work as public health officials try to contain its spread. Battered industries, such as airlines and hotels, will get relief, as will small businesses that apply for loans and households that qualify for individual stimulus checks.

Billionaires and other celebrities are using their influence and visibility to help.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates said his foundation will allocate billions of dollars to help build factories to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (who also owns The Washington Post) pledged $100 million to food banks through Feeding America. Google is putting $800 million toward relief efforts, including in advertising credits to the World Health Organization and small businesses. And Oprah Winfrey donated $10 million to combat the crisis, including $1 million to America’s Food Fund to tackle food insecurity.

Under Dorsey’s plan, all of Start Small’s grants will be tracked and made publicly available in a Google spreadsheet. The tech executive said he was pulling funds from Square and not Twitter because he owns more of the payment platform. The first $100,000 donation will go to America’s Food Fund to help feed those affected by the coronavirus.

“Why now?” Dorsey tweeted. “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.”