the whole site Elon Musk's private charity foundation is shorter than most contentious tweets from Tesla's CEO. "Musc Foundation. Grants are awarded for: research and advocacy on renewable energy; Research and advocacy for the exploration of the human space; Pediatric research; Science Education and Engineering, "reads on the site.
Documents obtained by the guardian reveal how the foundation has implemented this vague mission statement. Together, the documents show that many of the organization's donations far exceed its objectives. Some have benefited the family and initiatives of the billionaire, others have attacked his pet peeve – the foundation has donated more money to research Musk on artificial intelligence than to all charities more she supports.
The website of the private charity foundation Elon Musk. Photo: the guard
Like many other achievements, Musk has publicly extolled its charitable activities, whether during the Flint water crisis or as part of international efforts to rescue a young football team imprisoned in a cave. Thai. Musk has personally donated to several causes and organizations, including multi-million dollar donations to the Sierra Club and the XPrize Foundation, as well as a $ 1 million grant to the Obama Foundation. But most of his charitable donations are made through this private foundation, for which he provides all of his funding.
The Musk Foundation has disbursed more than $ 54 million in 15 years of activity and over a third in direct donations to 160 charities, according to an analysis by Internal Revenue Services of its statements since its inception in partnership in 2001 until mid-2017. In total, a few thousand dollars have been donated to many environmental, educational, medical and space organizations.
Other, however, landed closer to home. Recipients include a school attended by the children of Musk, a charity run by his brother, a protest group fighting the impasse on Musk's journey to SpaceX, and even an art project at Musk's favorite festival. Burning Man.
The man is on fire at Elon Musk's favorite Burning Man 2017 festival in the Black Rock desert of Nevada. Photography: Jim Urquhart / Reuters
Give all this?
In 2012, Musk joined billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett as part of the signing of The promise to give, the commitment of some of the richest people in the world to give up the majority of their wealth, during their lifetime or at their death. Musk – who controls Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company – is worth it valued $ 22 billion, although almost all of his fortune goes to his own businesses.
Musk had started organizing his charitable donations more than a decade ago.
Musk started his foundation in 2001 with his younger brother Kimbal, who was secretary and treasurer of the organization. The following year, Musk made his first big gift to the foundation shortly after the PayPal purchase of the payment company for which Musk had an interest. Musk gave his organization 30,000 eBay shares, worth $ 2.1 million.
Kimbal Musk launched Kitchen Community, a Colorado-based charity, with the help of his brother, Elon. Photography: Neilson Barnard / Getty Images for The New York Times
At the time, the foundation made small, non-controversial donations to Musk's alma maters in South Africa and the United States, other educational charities, space societies, and children's hospitals such as Seattle Children's Hospital and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.
Between 2007 and 2014, Musk completed the foundation's coffers with just over $ 3.1 million in cash. The list of recipients is growing longer – and is beginning to include more organizations with connections to Musk's family and interests.
The foundation has funded photovoltaic systems helping communities affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster and the Fukushima earthquake in 2011. The Solark solar power company, Solar City (now part of Tesla), has participated in both installations.
Also in 2010, the foundation spent $ 183,000 to help launch Kitchen Community, a Colorado-based charity run by Kimbal, which used "learning gardens" in underserved areas to help children get to know their children. grow and prepare fresh foods. Community kitchen, now called Big Green, will receive a total of nearly half a million dollars over the next four years – one of the largest direct awards of the foundation. As Executive Director and Project Chair, Kimbal received nearly $ 85,000 in Big Green payments between 2010 and 2016.
Between 2011 and 2013, the foundation also made two $ 50,000 donations to Mirman School for Gifted Children in Los Angeles, a school where Elon Musk's sons attended at the time. Musk then opened his own non-profit school, Ad Astra, located at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, where his children now go.
In 2012, the year Musk signed the pledge, the foundation broadened its horizons and donated to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Los Angeles Police, and a non-profit organization for women. film, television and digital professionals in New York. media industries.
He also paid three times $ 25,000 to a tiny pressure group called Angelenos Against Gridlock. The group was pushing for improvements to the famous Interstate 405, which Musk regularly uses to get from his Bel-Air home to SpaceX. Angelenos Against Gridlock is now gone, and Musk has turned his attention to tunnel construction to quickly place Tesla electric cars under city traffic.
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, officially opened the Hawthorne Tunnel on December 18th. This is a snapshot of Musk's broader vision of facilitating traffic in Los Angeles. Photography: AFP contributor # AFP / AFP / Getty Images
Perhaps the highlight of 2012 was a donation of $ 10,000 to the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies (Maps), a non-profit organization that develops medical marijuana and MDMA therapies. This donation made it possible to finance Temple of Holiness, a large wooden art structure that caught fire at the height of the 2013 Burning Man Festival in Nevada.
Fight the IA demon
By mid-2015, the Musk Foundation had more than $ 60,000. In May following, Musk donated 1.2 million shares of You're here Motors, valued at nearly $ 255 million at the time.
The huge influx of funds came with its own problems. Tax rules stipulate that private foundations must distribute 5% of their assets each year. The Musk Foundation suddenly had to find a home for millions of dollars. Musk has turned to his passion projects and his friends in Silicon Valley.
Musk has long been concerned about superhuman and malicious artificial intelligence, likening it to "invoking the demon". In 2015, he had pledged $ 1 billion to the creation of a research company called OpenAI it would develop safer AI in a way that would benefit humanity as a whole.
"Elon's charitable donations have started Research on the safety of AI, turning it into what is now a dynamic and respectable field of research, "said Max Tegmark, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who personally received $ 9 million from Musk for research at the Future of Life Institute.
But the non-profit OpenAI status was still under review by the IRS in 2016, which prevented it from receiving charitable donations. Instead, the Musk Foundation donated $ 10 million to another young charity, YC.org. The charity does not have a website or social network, but its stated purpose is to "subsidize other 501 (c) 3 initiatives and activities that attempt to solve the world's problems."
The filings show that the organization is led by Sam Altman, Director of OpenAI and President of Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley accelerator that has helped launch hundreds of technology start-ups, including Airbnb, Cruise Automation and Dropbox. Altman is also a director of OpenAI.
Sam Altman, president of Y Combinator, a Silicon Valley accelerator who helped launch hundreds of new technology companies, is attending a conference in Dresden, Germany, in 2016. Photo: Sean Gallup / Getty Images
The Musk Foundation grant accounted for most of YC.org's revenues, and almost all of its own funds, when it transferred $ 10 million to OpenAI later that year. The Open AI tax returns show that his best researcher alone has touched $ 1.9 million in 2016. While this is not at odds with what some AI researchers are earning, it's more than what the Musk Foundation has given to all other charities during its first eight years of activity.
Also in 2016, the Musk Foundation made its largest payment ever, donating $ 37.8 million to Vanguard Charitable. It's a donor-advised fund – a tax-efficient donation vehicle that holds money on behalf of many clients and distributes it over time. Because of this type of structure, it is difficult for the public to say which client awards which reward, which is a benefit for the shy in advertising.
The Musk Foundation has reported donating more than a million dollars worth of water filtration equipment and laptops to causes in Flint, Michigan. Photography: Carlos Osorio / AP
While the secret was not Musk's motivation to use donor-advised funds, he believes that true philanthropy is essentially anonymous, said a spokesman for the foundation at the Guardian.
According to some indications, the foundation could return to donations from the base. Last summer, Musk tweeted that it would help solve the public health crisis in Flint, Michigan. The foundation said it donated more than a million dollars worth of water filtration equipment and laptops to various causes in the city. But, if Musk continues to use Vanguard, its already secret base will be even less transparent in the years to come.
In the law
Neither Elon nor Kimbal have ever accepted compensation for their work with the foundation, and there are no other salaried employees in the organization, reports say.
No Musk's charitable decision is particularly rare for a private foundation of a billionaire, said Harvey Dale, director of the National Center on Philanthropy and law at New York University. Many wealthy people fund their children's schools and support their own charities and initiatives, he said.
Even the foundation that gives money to Big Green, who in turn paid Kimbal, may not be problematic. Big Green did not respond to requests for comment, but the Musk Foundation noted that Elon Musk has no involvement in Big Green and was not aware of any payments to Kimbal. He also said that these payments have now stopped.
"It's not clearly against the law," noted Dale. "As [the brother’s] The charity salary was relatively modest, and the charity has many other resources, you can come to the conclusion that the contribution of the foundation was not responsible for any particular benefit for him. "
On Wednesday, the foundation added aline to its website, asserting its support for "developing a safe artificial intelligence for the benefit of humanity".