A tiny fraction of people could even hope to know what it feels like being a billionaire. And an even smaller number will have a 10-digit bank balance before the age of 30.
So when Dustin Moskovitz, the world’s youngest billionaire at age 29, revealed what it’s like being a card-carrying member of the billionaires club, we took notice. As co-founder of social networking giant Facebook and co-founder and CEO of organisation app Asana, he says he views his fortune as a resource to promote the social good rather than as a means to fulfil his own interests.
The entrepreneur, who Forbes estimates has a net worth of $US5.2 billion, gave us permission to post his following response to an inquiry on Quora into how he feels about being a billionaire, whether he ignores it, if the money is a burden, and where it will go when he dies:
I’m very fond of this quote from Louis C.K. below and generally view the world through this lens:
“I never viewed money as being ‘my money.’ I always saw it as ‘The money.’ It’s a resource. If it pools up around me then it needs to be flushed back out into the system.”
In other words, Cari and I are stewards of this capital. It’s pooled up around us right now, but it belongs to the world. We are not perfect in applying this attitude, but we try very hard.
All that said, it turns out to be quite difficult to flush such a large sum back into the world in a way you can feel confident about, which is why we started Good Ventures and work so closely with GiveWell. But we’re learning more and more every day and accelerating our pace as we do. We intend not to have much left when we die (i.e. we have a “burn down” foundation).
Moskovitz later posted the following update on how he feels about reinvesting his wealth back into business:
A few people have commented or sent me private messages along the lines of “businesses can do good for the world too! Don’t just give it all away!” I want to be clear that I agree 100% with that viewpoint. I personally work full time on building Asana because I agree so strongly (Solving the ultimate meta-problem at The Asana Blog). I also have many decades to invest my capital before the “burn down” aspect even starts to meaningfully limit the opportunities I can pursue on the business side. We’ve even already made one very notable investment from the foundation side of our world (Vicarious Raises $US15M Led By Good Ventures To Build Software That ‘Learns Like A Human’).
But I see no strong reasons to try to set up a system that perpetually invests this capital after I die, so I’d like to be rid of it before then (much like Warren Buffett). Further, even the money we grant will inevitably be re-invested in the economy somehow; it has not been “consumed”. So, I’m just giving other people a chance to be stewards of the capital in the long run, to re-grant it or invest as they see fit.
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