Twitter founder pledges $1bn to fight coronavirus

Jack Dorsey, founder and CEO of Twitter and Square, has pledged to donate $1bn (£812m) towards fighting the coronavirus pandemic. (AP)

Twitter (TWTR) founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey has pledged to donate $1bn (£812m) towards fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

The donation amounts to 28% of his total wealth, according to Dorsey, who made the announcement on Twitter.

The $1bn will come from shares he owns in financial-payments startup Square (SQ) and will be distributed through a new philanthropic venture, called Start Small.

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Dorsey is the chief executive of both Twitter and Square. He said he was using his Square holdings rather than Twitter shares because he owned “a lot more” of them. The shares will be sold over time, which could have an effect on their value and the final sum of the donation.

Start Small will first focus on fighting the coronavirus pandemic but will shift to tackling girls’ health and education and research into universal basic income, “after we disarm this pandemic”, Dorsey said.

Dorsey said he wanted to donate to causes where he could see an impact in his lifetime.

The funds will be donated through a limited liability company, a corporate structure in the US whereby the owners are not personally liable for the company's debts or liabilities. It is a tool many wealthy individuals use for charitable donations, but is often criticised for a lack of transparency.

To counter this, Start Small will disclose all transfers, sales and grants on a public Google Doc spreadsheet.

Several other tech billionaires have committed part of their fortunes towards fighting the coronavirus.

Read more: Wellcome Trust calls on businesses to donate $8bn for COVID-19 research

Facebook (FB) founder Mark Zuckerberg has pledged $25m to the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, focused on efforts to create a treatment.

Amazon's (AMZN) Jeff Bezos has donated $100m to food banks in the US to help those struggling with hunger during the pandemic.

Chief executive of Apple (AAPL) Tim Cook announced in March the company would donate medical supplies to Italy which has been hit hard by the virus.