Still flushed with all that hongbao cash from Chinese New Year, Tencent founder Pony Ma is looking to spread the wealth around a bit, pledging to donate $2 billion in shares to a new charity fund.
Ma is one of the richest men in China, with an estimated fortune of around $19.8 billion. His pledge is one of the largest in Chinese history, it will go to supporting medical, educational and environmental causes in China, Reuters reports.
While China has overtaken the US as the country that is home to the most billionaires in the world, according to a Forbes study last year, China’s wealthy haven’t kept pace in terms of generosity. Infamously, in 2010, American billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet asked 50 of the richest people in China to a charity dinner. Reportedly fearing they would be pressured into donating money, a third of the invitees declined.
Present at that dinner was Chen Guangbiao, the face of Chinese philanthropy, a multimillionaire recycling company CEO that is famous for his unorthodox and un-subtle approach to charity. Over the past few years, the “media conscious” Chen infamously faked a 10-minute-long ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, screwed over homeless people in New York and asked Guinness for some kind of certificate to honor all the good deeds he has done.
But, Pony Ma has always seemed like a nice enough guy. He has even made a habit of handing out hongbao to his employees after Chinese New Year. Last year, thousands of workers stood in line for hours to receive a red packet from their boss — so what if some of them only contained 10 yuan?
Well, even with that kind of benevolence, Ma was left off the 2015 Global Chinese Philanthropy list, one of the four billionaires who made the top 10 on Hurun’s Global Chinese Rich list, but were conspicuously absent on the charity list.
However, it seems that Ma is ready to turn over a new leaf. “After 10 years of exploration and participation in philanthropic activities, I increasingly feel that there is a need for a more longer-term, efficient and organized way to give back to society,” Ma said in a statement on Monday.
The roughly $2 billion in shares will be managed by a team of professionals for a brand-new charity fund.
Unfortunately for Ma, Reuters reports that this was likely only the second largest single philanthropic pledge in Chinese history. Ma’s surname-sharing rival Jack Ma holds first place with a $3 billion pledge of Alibaba shares in 2014.