BitMEX Co-Founder Pledges to Give Majority of His Wealth to Charitable Causes

Siamak Masnavi
  • 28 May 2019

Ben Delo, the British Co-Founder of the world's most popular crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX who last year became the UK's first (and youngest) crypto billionaire, has signed The Giving Pledge, which means that he is willing to donate the majority of his wealth to charitable causes.

Ben Delo and BitMEX

As CryptoGlobe reported on 2 July 2018, the British software engineer, at the age of 34, became UK's first crypto billionaire as a result of the incredible success of BitMEX, which he co-founded (along with Arthur Hayes and Samuel Reed) in 2014; at that time, his net worth was estimated to be $3.6 billion (he owns 30% of BitMEX).

Because BitMEX makes its money from futures products in Bitcoin and several other cryptocurrencies, price volatility is good for business, and BitMEX makes plenty of profits in both bull and bear markets.

As another BitMEX co-founder and its current CEO, Arthur Hayes, pointed out on 29 June 2018 on CNBC's Fast Money, BitMEX does "good volume on up days and even better volume on aggressive down days."

According to a report published on 1 July 2018 in the UK's Sunday Times, Delo, who lives with his wife Pan Pan Wong in Hong Kong, interestingly, is a follower of U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett when it comes to frugal living.

In fact, he told the British newspaper that:

  • he "owns only three pairs of shoes — trainers, a pair of “sensible” leather brogues and flip-flops"; and
  • he and his wife "use special offer vouchers when they buy meals in McDonald’s."

Also, he said at the time that, like Buffett, he intends to use the majority of his fortune for philanthropy.

What Is The Giving Pledge?

The Giving Pledge is an initiative, started in 2010 by Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Melinda Gates, that encourages some of the world's richest individuals, couples, and families to publicly declare that they will dedicate the majority of their wealth to charitable causes "either during their lifetime or in their will."

It "came to life following a series of conversations with philanthropists around the world about how they could collectively set a new standard of generosity among the ultra-wealthy." It is an "open invitation for billionaires, or those who would be if not for their giving, to publicly dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy," and it is "inspired by the example set by millions of people at all income levels who give generously–and often at great personal sacrifice–to make the world better."

People signing the pledge "often write a letter explaining their decision to engage deeply and publicly in philanthropy, as well as describing the philanthropic causes to which they are devoted."

Although the initial focus was on the U.S., in February 2013, the pledge "went global". So far, nearly 200 signatories from 23 countries have taken the pledge. The signatories range in age "from their 30s to their 90s", and countries they represent include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States. 

These signatories "give to a diverse range of issues including poverty alleviation, refugee aid, disaster relief, global health, education, women and girls’ empowerment, medical research, arts and culture, criminal justice reform, and environmental sustainability."

The list of the pledge signatories includes Richard and Joan Branson, Ray and Barbara Dalio, Larry Ellison, Carl Icahn, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Elon Musk.

Delo Signs The Giving Pledge

According to a press release shared earlier today with CryptoGlobe, Delo has recently also signed the pledge, but interestingly, he is "the first Giving Pledge signatory to focus his pledge exclusively on safeguarding the long-term future of humanity." Delo plans to fund work that targets "catastrophic threats such as nuclear war and extreme climate change, as well as potential risks from emerging technologies such as engineered pandemics and advanced artificial intelligence."

In a note on The Giving Pledge website, Delo explained his interest in philanthropy and why he had signed the pledge:

  • As a 16-year-old schoolboy in the UK, when asked to list his future ambitions, Delo wrote: “Computer programmer. Internet entrepreneur. Millionaire.”
  • Now that he has achieved those goals, his ambition is "to do the most good possible" with his wealth, which (to him) means "funding work to safeguard future generations and protect the long-term prospects of humanity." He says that this includes "mitigating risks that could spell the end of human endeavour or permanently curtail our potential."
  • The reason for this focus is because he believes that "all lives are valuable, including those of future generations" and that "a vast and extraordinary future lies ahead if we can navigate the challenges and opportunities posed by new technologies in the upcoming century."
  • Delo is worried that the technology that currently exists "could cause human extinction." He is also concerned with the "prospect of extreme climate change." And finally, he thinks that "advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and synthetic biology will pose new and complex challenges." 

Delo is only the second crypto billionaire to sign The Giving Pledge. The first one to do so -- last December -- was Brian Armstrong, Co-Founder and CEO at crypto exchange Coinbase, who is well-known in the crypto space for his philanthropic effort, GiveCrypto.org, which makes direct cash transfers to people living in poverty.