Warren Buffett's famous Giving Pledge, which (in case you're new here) encourages the investor's fellow ultra-wealthy individuals with billion-dollar fortunes to give away the majority of those personal fortunes when they die, has just added another billionaire to its list of names: Steven A. Schwarzman, CEO of The Blackstone Group, and the billionaire financier recently made the announcement to Yahoo! Finance.
The announcement arrived in concert with an open letter from Schwarzman to Bill Gates, one of the other architects of The Giving Pledge. In it, Schwarzman says he considers adding his name to be a symbolic gesture above and beyond any financial implications it has:
"Although plans for my estate have long reflected the principles of the Pledge, I am joining because I think it's an important signal to encourage others to step up philanthropically as well."
He goes on to discuss his passion for philanthropy during his career, which he says makes him a natural fit for the Giving Pledge's stated mission:
"Blackstone's success has changed my life in innumerable ways by giving me the means to pursue many interests, including a variety of philanthropic pursuits.
"In philanthropy, as in business, I enjoy tackling complex challenges that require thoughtful, innovative solutions.
"The game-changing nature of my major projects has required substantial financial support, as well as my personal long-term involvement. Each project is a unique partnership where I bring to bear the full extent of my knowledge, network, and time to ensure that the new organizations are positioned to meet their objectives as best they can."
The philanthropic pursuits that Schwarzman mentions include more than a billion dollars in giving so far, most of which he has focused on the cause of education. Recently, he pledged some $350 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology towards establishing a school studying artificial intelligence.
Now, in adding his name to The Giving Pledge, he's completed what has become something of a rite of passage for billionaire philanthropists.