Sony Launches $100M Virus Relief Fund

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Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida

The money will be split between supporting front-line medical workers, aiding educational efforts for kids who can't go to school, and "supporting members of the creative community in the entertainment industry."

Sony Corp. said Thursday that it will launch a $100 million fund to support those around the world affected by the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

The Tokyo-based conglomerate said the initiative would target three areas: supporting front-line medical professionals and first responders to fight the virus; aiding children and educators who must now work remotely; and supporting members of the creative community in the entertainment industry, "which has been greatly impacted by the spread of the virus."

The company also said it will match COVID-19 donations made by its approximately 110,000 employees worldwide.

The Japanese tech and entertainment giant's relief fund follows similar efforts by other major entertainment industry players and tech companies. Netflix has pledged $100 million for out-of-work production professionals, Live Nation committed $10 million to support concert crews, and Facebook said it will invest $100 million in support of the news industry.

How the fund would be used to support the creative community and entertainment industry was somewhat vague at the time of Sony's announcement. The company said it would seek to provide aid to various creative sectors where it is a stakeholder — motion pictures, television, music, games and animation.

The company's statement said: "Together with its group companies engaged in the entertainment industry, Sony will seek ways to support up-and-coming creators, artists and all those in professions supporting the industry, who have been impacted by the cancellation or postponement of concerts and live events, or the shutting down of film and television productions."

The new Sony fund's contributions to medical support were the most clear-cut. The company said it would devote $10 million to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the WHO, which is backed by the UN Foundation and Swiss Philanthropy Foundation, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In the education arena, Sony noted that "children, who represent the next generation, are losing education opportunities as a result of school closures." The company said it will "explore ways to leverage its technologies in support of education activities, and cooperate with educators to implement these measures."

"Sony extends its condolences to the families of those who have passed away as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, and extends its sympathies to all those who have been impacted," said Kenichiro Yoshida, Sony's president and CEO, in a statement. "In order to overcome the unprecedented challenges that as a society we now face around the world, we will do all we can as a global company to support the individuals on the front lines of the battle against COVID-19, the children who are our future, and those who have been impacted in the creative community."

Sony concluded that it will "work together with its partners and stakeholders to explore ways to further extend these initiatives."