Zuckerberg to donate 99% of his FB shares to charity
MARK Zuckerberg will put 99 per cent of his Facebook shares, currently worth about US$45 billion (S$63 billion), into a new philanthropy project focusing on human potential and equality, he and his wife said on Tuesday in a letter to their newborn daughter.
The plan, which was posted on the Facebook founder and chief executive's page, attracted more than 1.1 million "likes", including from singer Shakira, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates.
The Gates and other high-profile billionaires such as Warren Buffett have set up foundations of their own to dedicate their massive fortunes to philanthropic endeavours.
Mr Zuckerberg, 31, will control the new initiative jointly with his wife, Priscilla Chan, while remaining in charge of the world's largest online social network. He said he would sell or give up to US$1 billion in shares in each of the next three years.
Mr Zuckerberg will keep a controlling stake in Facebook, valued at US$303 billion as of Tuesday's close, for what the company called the "foreseeable future".
According to Facebook's most recent proxy statement, Mr Zuckerberg owned four million Class A shares and 422.3 million Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting power of A shares. Combined, he held 54 per cent of the voting power of the company's shares.
Mr Zuckerberg said he plans to remain the CEO for "many, many years to come".
His new project, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, is not his first in the world of philanthropy. When he was 26, he signed the Giving Pledge, which invites the world's wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes over their lifetime or in their will.
Mr Zuckerberg is relatively young to commit so much of his wealth. Microsoft co-founder Gates was 45 in 2000, the year he and his wife founded the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Mr Buffett was 76 in 2006 when he committed to give away all of his Berkshire Hathaway stock to philanthropic organisations.
Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle Of Philanthropy, said Mr Zuckerberg and his wife's announcement was remarkable not just because of the size of the donation, but also because of their ages.
"Our lists of the top donors are usually dominated by people in their 70s or 80s," she said. "This is a message to other young people who are deciding what to do with their great wealth."
In welcoming the birth of his first child on his Facebook page, Mr Zuckerberg posted a photo of himself, his wife and their daughter, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg, along with a post entitled "A letter to our daughter".
In the 2,220-word letter, Mr Zuckerberg and Ms Chan, a paediatrician, touched on issues including health, education, Internet access and learning before announcing the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which aims to "advance human potential and promote equality".
They plan to give away 99 per cent of their Facebook shares over their lifetimes to advance the initiative, which was formed as a limited liability company. It will begin by focusing on curing disease, Internet connectivity, community building and personalised learning - the idea that technology can help students learn at different paces.
Maxima was born early last week - though Facebook did not specify her birth date.