Steve Jobs' widow vows Apple co-founder's fortune will be given away

Powell Jobs is also aware of her status as a Silicon Valley billionaire in an era where income inequality has come under a microscope

Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, joined one of the world’s most exclusive groups when she inherited her husband’s multibillion-dollar fortune in 2011 after the visionary’s death in 2011.

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Now, the 56-year-old billionaire philanthropist — the 36th richest person in the world, worth a little over $25 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index — is vowing to give her fortune away.

“I inherited my wealth from my husband, who didn’t care about the accumulation of wealth,” she told The New York Times. “I’m not interested in legacy wealth buildings, and my children know that. Steve wasn’t interested in that. If I live long enough, it ends with me.”

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Since her husband’s death, Powell Jobs has become increasingly ambitious with her business and philanthropy. While Steve Jobs was revolutionizing the personal technology industry, most notably with the introduction of the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad, his wife founded College Track, which helps underprivileged youths get into college, and Emerson Collective, a “social change organization” named for Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Influenced by President Trump’s victory in 2016, Powell Jobs has also increasingly waded into the contentious political arena: She purchased television ads opposing Trump’s decision to end a program that gave people brought into the U.S. as children, known as dreamers, temporary protection from deportation, and has been an ardent supporter of independent journalism (at the end of 2019, she solidified control of the Atlantic).

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In 2016, she backed Hillary Clinton, donating $2 million to her super PAC via her nonprofit and hosting a $200,000-a-plate fundraiser that raised more than $4 million. In the most recent election cycle, Powell Jobs donated to California Sen. Kamala Harris, who exited the race in 2019.

Powell Jobs is also aware of her status as a Silicon Valley billionaire in an era where income inequality has come under a microscope and Democratic presidential candidates have vowed to reverse it with sharp tax hikes on the ultra-wealthy.

“It’s not right for individuals to accumulate a massive amount of wealth that’s equivalent to millions and millions of other people combined,” she told the Times. “There’s nothing fair about that. We saw that at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries with the Rockefellers and Carnegies and Mellons and Fords of the world. That kind of accumulation of wealth is dangerous for a society. It shouldn’t be this way.”

Powell Jobs is not the first billionaire to criticize the system that's allowed her to amass such a huge fortune, nor the first to pledge to give the majority of it away.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, announced plans almost four years ago to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a company that uses technology to solve challenges like eradicating disease and reforming the criminal justice system, according to its website.

The full amount is pledged over the course of Zuckerberg's life, and he will not give more than $1 billion each year in the immediate future. (In a regulatory filing, Zuckerberg said he plans to maintain control of the company "for the foreseeable future.")

Microsoft founder Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda Gates, have also vowed to give away their some $108 billion fortune, going so far as to start the Giving Pledge along with their friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett.

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