Category: Philanthropy

May 28, 2019 Off

MacKenzie Bezos pledges to give away more than half her $37B fortune to charity and philanthropy

By Jill T Frey

MacKenzie Bezos, the world’s third-richest woman following her divorce from Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, has signed the Giving Pledge — a commitment that will see her giving away more than half her wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes, either during her lifetime or in her will.

Bezos recently made headlines when she gave ex-husband Jeff 75% of their joint Amazon stock, and voting control, in their divorce, along with their interests in The Washington Post and Blue Origin. However, that still left her with an at least $35.6 billion stake in Amazon. Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index now estimates her net worth at $36.6 billion.

“We each come by the gifts we have to offer by an infinite series of influences and lucky breaks we can never fully understand,” wrote MacKenzie Bezos, in a letter published by the Giving Pledge today, announcing her intention to give away her … Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

Beyond costs, what else can we do to make housing affordable?

By Jill T Frey

This week on Extra Crunch, I am exploring innovations in inclusive housing, looking at how 200+ companies are creating more access and affordability. Yesterday, I focused on startups trying to lower the costs of housing, from property acquisition to management and operations.

Today, I want to focus on innovations that improve housing inclusion more generally, such as efforts to pair housing with transit, small business creation, and mental rehabilitation. These include social impact-focused interventions, interventions that increase income and mobility, and ecosystem-builders in housing innovation.

Nonprofits and social enterprises lead many … Read the rest

May 14, 2019 Off

CEO Howard Lerman on building a public company and the future of Yext

By Jill T Frey

It’s just over two years since Yext debuted on the New York Stock Exchange, and to mark the occasion, I sat down with co-founder and CEO Howard Lerman for an interview.

As Lerman noted, Yext — which allows businesses to manage their profiles and information across a wide variety of online services — actually presented onstage at the TechCrunch 50 conference back in 2009. Now, it boasts a market capitalization of nearly $2.3 billion, and it just revealed plans to take over a nine-floor building in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, turning it into Yext’s global headquarters.

My interview with Lerman actually came before the announcement, though he managed to drop in a few veiled hints about the company making a big move in real estate.

More concretely, we talked about how Lerman’s management style has evolved from scrappy startup founder to a public company CEO — he described … Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

Market map: the 200+ innovative startups transforming affordable housing

By Jill T Frey

In this section of my exploration into innovation in inclusive housing, I am digging into the 200+ companies impacting the key phases of developing and managing housing.

Innovations have reduced costs in the most expensive phases of the housing development and management process. I explore innovations in each of these phases, including construction, land, regulatory, financing, and operational costs.

Reducing Construction Costs

This is one of the top three challenges developers face, exacerbated by rising building material costs and labor … Read the rest

May 13, 2019 Off

Innovations in inclusive housing

By Jill T Frey

Housing is big money. The industry has trillions under management and hundreds of billions under development.

And investors have noticed the potential. Opendoor raised nearly $1.3 billion to help homeowners buy and sell houses more quickly. Katerra raised $1.2 billion to optimize building development and construction, and Compass raised the same amount to help brokers sell real estate better. Even Amazon and Airbnb have entered the fray with high-profile investments.

Amidst this frenetic growth is the seed of the next wave of innovation in the sector. The housing industry — and its affordability problem … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

How tech entrepreneurs think of Universal Basic Income

By Jill T Frey

As tech has grown, policy debates have become an important pastime. Today’s tech industry aspires to replace human drivers with self-driving cars, secretaries with AI assistants, permanent jobs with gigs — and as a result, the human impact of tech has become an everyday conversation.

No other idea is as emblematic of this as Universal Basic Income, a policy that would distribute a monthly sum to every adult regardless of their income or employment status.

The conversation is widespread. Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk have said that UBI may be desirable or necessary. Y-Combinator Research and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes are running basic income studies. Tech-friendly presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders and Andrew Yang support the issue.

But should the average tech entrepreneur or investor support UBI? The answer is not entirely clear.

The good news is that the tech industry is deeply familiar with risk, which is an important component … Read the rest