Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba group, sings a song during an event to mark the 20th anniversary of Alibaba in Hangzhou, China in 2019.
Photo: Getty Images

Tech billionaire Jack Ma has donated $14.5 million to help develop a vaccine for the new coronavirus that has killed at least 170 people and sickened over 7,700. Ma is China’s wealthiest person with an estimated $41.8 billion, which means that his donation is roughly equivalent to the average American household donating $33.

Ma founded Alibaba, the world’s largest online retailer, and is often compared to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. And with Ma’s relatively tiny donation, we can now see the similarities in more ways than one.

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Alibaba and Amazon both treat their employees like shit, their owners both own major media outlets (Bezos owns the Washington Post and Ma owns the South China Morning Post), and now their owners both give out relatively small charitable donations while they sit on billions of dollars.

Bezos, who’s worth an estimated $117 billion, recently donated $690,000 to help Australia battle its bushfires, the equivalent of an average American donating less than a dollar. How generous, coming from a guy who says he doesn’t know how to spend his money. Bezos and Ma would get along just swimmingly.

“We know that the battle between humanity and disease is a long journey,” Ma’s foundation said on Weibo, according to a translation by Abacus News, which is owned by Alibaba. “This money will help various medical research efforts and help disease prevention.”

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Alibaba forces employees to work “inhumane” levels of overtime and Amazon workers are pissing in bottles because they’re afraid to be punished for taking bathroom breaks. Meanwhile, these tech billionaires live lavish lifestyles, all built on the backs of exploited labor.

As CNBC journalist Eunice Yoon points out, the spread of the virus is going to have a big impact on global supply chains soon, with many cities and provinces shut down over the next few weeks. So perhaps Ma will wake up after his business sees a huge slump.

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As we all know, the quickest way to get a rich person to pay attention is to threaten a single dollar of their enormous profits. And with the new coronavirus leaving China on virtual lockdown, businesses in and outside of China are going to be hemorrhaging money soon.

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It’s good when extremely wealthy people give their money to worthy causes, but you know what’s great? Taking that obscene wealth through taxes and spending it to make the world a healthier place for everyone.

Matt Novak is the editor of Gizmodo's Paleofuture blog

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