Amazon Could Lay Off Thousands Just Days After Bezos Vowed to Share Fortune

Jeff Bezos announced his intention to donate most of his fortune during his lifetime to worthy causes—including fighting climate change— at almost at the same time as news of his company preparing to lay off some 10,000 staff broke.

Bezos—Amazon's founder, executive chairman, former president and CEO—is the fourth-richest person in the world, according to Forbes billionaires list, with a net worth of $124 billion. His company, which has grown from a start up in a rented garage to a global business empire, is worth $1 trillion.

However, the e-commerce firm's growth slowed to its lowest rate in two decades in 2022 after experiencing a boom during the pandemic, when Amazon doubled its workforce to keep up with increased demand for its services.

The company is now set to become part of the same wave of layoffs undertaken by both Meta and Twitter in recent weeks, moves that the companies have justified by pointing to a downturn of the technology sector after the pandemic, when the industry thrived.

Comp Photo, Jeff Bezos & BOS27 Robotics
In this combined image, an employee can be seen at Amazon's BOS27 Robotics Innovation Hub in Westborough, Massachusetts on November 10, 2022 and Jeff Bezos, inset, attends "The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power" world premiere in London on August 30, 2022. Getty

Meta announced on November 9 that it's laying off some 11,000 workers, about 13 percent of its staff, while Twitter is said to have fired about half its work force in the days following Elon Musk's takeover of the company.

According to reports, Amazon plans to eliminate jobs in its devices organization—the team working on "Alexa," among others—and in its human resources and retail divisions.

The cuts, first reported by The New York Times, would represent 3 percent of Amazon's corporate staff, though a source told Reuters that the exact number of employees laid off may vary depending on Amazon's business priorities.

Newsweek has contacted Amazon's press team for comment.

Bezos has not yet commented on the reported layoffs, but in an interview with CNN on Monday he announced he will give away a majority of his wealth during his lifetime. The billionaire made the promise as he announced he was donating $100 million to country singer Dolly Parton as part of his annual Courage and Civility award. Parton will give the money to a charity of her choice.

Bezos has long been considered a reluctant philanthropist, having failed to join Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg in signing the Giving Pledge—a campaign encouraging the extremely wealthy to give away a majority of their fortune to worthy causes—and being completely overshadowed by the generosity of his ex-wife, philanthropist MacKenzie Scott.

Apart from Parton, Bezos has not yet specified who he will give his money to, though he said he wants to use his wealth to fight climate change and support people "who use unity instead of conflict."

In fact, the billionaire has said finding worthy causes is difficult.

"The hard part is figuring out how to do it in a levered way—it is not easy," Bezos said in an interview with CNN.

"Building Amazon was not easy. It took a lot of hard work and a bunch of very smart teammates," he said. "Philanthropy is very similar. It is really hard and there are a bunch of ways you can do ineffective things, too. We are building the capacity to be able to give away this money."