Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has remained tight-lipped about his $10 billion climate change initiative since announcing it six months ago. But documents unearthed by Recode hint at how the program could be structured and indicate that the billionaire is starting to move forward with it.
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Fellowship Ventures LLC a trademark for the Bezos Earth Fund in July. It isn’t clear whether the trademark is simply holding the name, or if Fellowship Ventures will be a vehicle for donations and grants awarded through the Bezos Earth Fund. The newly created LLC’s mailing address is in Amazon’s hometown, Seattle, and is registered in Delaware.
Bezos hand-signed the trademark application on March 6, suggesting his direct involvement with Fellowship Ventures, one of many LLCs and businesses funded by the tech leader’s fortune.
Bezos’ team at Amazon declined to comment on the venture.
Bezos unveiled the environmental initiative in an Instagram post in February, pledging to “work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share.” He said at the time that the Bezos Earth Fund will issue its first grants to scientists, activists and non-governmental organizations this summer.
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Today, I’m thrilled to announce I am launching the Bezos Earth Fund.??? ??? Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. I want to work alongside others both to amplify known ways and to explore new ways of fighting the devastating impact of climate change on this planet we all share. This global initiative will fund scientists, activists, NGOs — any effort that offers a real possibility to help preserve and protect the natural world. We can save Earth. It’s going to take collective action from big companies, small companies, nation states, global organizations, and individuals. ??? ??? I’m committing $10 billion to start and will begin issuing grants this summer. Earth is the one thing we all have in common — let’s protect it, together.??? ??? – Jeff
Bezos has not revealed any additional details about the initiative since February.
The Bezos Earth Fund is one of the largest single philanthropic gifts in history but many questions about the effort remain. Philanthropy and environmental experts are particularly curious about the period of time in which the $10 billion will be donated.
“Ten billion dollars is a giant figure and so just by itself, that makes a big difference,” Stacy Palmer, editor of the independent news organization The Chronicle of Philanthropy, told GeekWire earlier this year. “But if it’s $10 billion that’s going to be spent over 20 years, that’s really different than $10 billion spent in one year for immediate projects or for research or for advocacy.”
For much of their history, Amazon and Bezos fielded criticism for amassing so much wealth without a more intentional philanthropic strategy. Some criticism comes from within; tech workers at the company formed Amazon Employees for Climate Justice more than a year ago to advocate for more aggressive sustainability policies.
Amazon and Bezos have become more serious about philanthropy in recent years amid the blowback.
Last year Amazon created the Climate Pledge, which aims to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change 10 years ahead of schedule and encourages other companies to do the same. Then Amazon surprised Seattle by announcing it bought the naming rights to what was formerly Key Arena. The stadium will now be called Climate Pledge Arena.
Bezos is also using his personal fortune to fund new philanthropic initiatives. In 2018 he unveiled the $2 billion Day One Fund to promote innovations in preschool education and affordable housing.
Regulatory filings show Bezos sold approximately $3 billion in Amazon stock on Monday. Bezos said in 2017 that he was selling $1 billion a year to fund his Blue Origin space venture, but he has been increasing the size and frequency of the stock sales.