Tech billionaires are donating to coronavirus relief. But are they giving enough?

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Good morning, Data Sheet readers. Tech writer Danielle Abril here filling in for Adam. 

I’ve been tracking tech billionaires who’ve dipped into their own wallets to help health organizations fight the coronavirus pandemic. And one question keeps coming up: Are these billionaires doing enough?

The Google Foundation on Sunday announced the latest of these donations from Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai. The foundation tweeted Sunday night that Pichai had chipped in $1 million to the nonprofit Give Directly to provide cash to low-income San Francisco Bay Area families who’ve been hit hardest by the virus. Pichai also donated 50 million rupees, about a little more than $655,000, for similar donations to families in India and for health supplies.

Pichai’s donations came just a week after Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and Square, announced plans to give $1 billion worth of his Square shares to coronavirus relief efforts in addition to other causes. 

Two weeks ago, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos donated $100 million to Feeding America, which supports a network of more than 200 U.S. food banks. Prior to that, Bezos had also contributed an undisclosed sum to a $30 million fund for All in Seattle, a coalition of Seattle community members that helps nonprofits provide coronavirus aid. 

Meanwhile, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, funded by Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, has provided about $37 million to coronavirus-related response efforts. 

For years, many tech industry observers have criticized top executives for failing to focus enough on charity. In particular, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, a major philanthropist himself, has hammered fellow tech elites for neglecting to share their extraordinary wealth.

For Pichai, we don’t know how much he earned in 2019. But in 2018, as Google’s CEO, he made $470 million—meaning that his donations account for just 0.4{4bae5313c1ffa697ce99995897f7847f1ebf3bca0fb7c37396bb602eb24323d3} of his total pay that year.

Granted, $1 million will still go a long way in helping U.S. families in need, and 50 million rupees may change the game for healthcare professionals who need safety gear or ventilators. If that amount’s not enough, how much would be?

Two things are for certain: 1. Without tech billionaires’ donations to coronavirus aid, the world would be worse off. 2. More money from even more wealthy tech executives would make the world better.

Danielle Abril


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This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman.

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