Jeff Bezos: Not Even a Dime

Rick Simonson: “More than ever, it would then seem, it is time to publicly raise the question as to why Amazon has done nothing, absolutely nothing, in the way of overt philanthopy. Mist Place talked with various people in the non-profit community – everyone is perplexed at Amazon’s absence, its total, niggardly abdication of this role. It is perhaps only for a lack of media attention – and a kind of calling-out, or shaming – that this isn’t being addressed publicly. One person talked with knows two of the people on Amazon’s board, who know well the way of corporate giving, and say they even have gotten nowhere in inquiries. Mr. Bezos, in at least one online account of some time ago, asked about philanthropy, treated the question only in terms of his own wealth.” (Thanks, Vladimir!)


  1. Interesting. When I worked at Amazon (’97 to ’03) some of us suggested corporate giving programs that would tie into the original business of books, such as grants to aspiring writers or at least a literary prize of some kind. The excuse was always that, although money was coming in hand over fist, the company had yet to turn a profit. That was true then–only in my last couple of years there did they see the ink begin to turn from black to red. I’m not sure how consistently profitable they’ve been since I left, but they had an awfully big hole to dig out of.

  2. I think Simonson has a point. Plus, he uses the word “niggardly” which I’ve only seen elsewhere in a Gary Lutz story. It’s a word that, on sight, could be misunderstood, but merely means stingy or cheap.

  3. Marydell, we’re not talking about what Bezos does personally, but about a corporation. If it’s going to be granted status as a person under the law, I think expecting it to behave humanely is perfectly reasonable.

  4. CBO, no, though I do see some merit in laissez-faire capitalism, which does not necessarily preclude philanthropy.

    James, I understand. I personally wouldn’t want to be shamed into acts of charity, so I’m not one to point fingers at others (whether person or corporation). Besides, Amazon will likely get around to sharing its wealth after the tax consequences of operating in the black start sinking in.

  5. philanthropy only happens to the extent that it will increase profits, if you are a publicly-owned corporation, so yeah, it is because there wasn’t enough public pressure

    if you are a publicly-owned corporation you exist to increase profits so that investors will gain a return on their investment. if philanthropy will increase profits (by way of better public-image, etc.) then it will happen, if it will not increase profits, it will not happen.

    just support independently owned companies.

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