Make us your home page
Instagram

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife are giving away most of their fortune

SAN FRANCISCO — Talk about birth announcements: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife say they'll devote nearly all their wealth — roughly $45 billion — to solving the world's problems in celebration of their new baby daughter, Max.

Zuckerberg's wife, Priscilla Chan, gave birth to a 7-pound, 8-ounce daughter last week. But the couple didn't put out the news until Tuesday, when Zuckerberg posted it on Facebook, of course.

In the same post, Zuckerberg said he and Chan will, over time, commit 99 percent of their Facebook stockholdings to such causes as fighting disease, improving education and "building strong communities." The couple had previously pledged to give away at least half their assets during their lifetime, but hadn't provided specifics.

They are forming a new organization, called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, that will pursue those goals through a combination of charitable donations, private investment and promotion of government-policy reform.

"Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today," the 31-year-old social media mogul and his wife wrote in a letter to their daughter, which they also posted on Facebook.

The announcement stunned the charity world. "It's incredibly impressive and an enormous commitment that really eclipses anything that we've seen in terms of size," said Phil Buchanan, president of the nonprofit Center for Effective Philanthropy.

By comparison, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has an endowment of just over $41 billion, which includes wealth donated by the Microsoft founder and his friend, the businessman Warren Buffett.

The new initiative will be organized as a limited liability company, however, rather than as a nonprofit foundation. "They want the most flexibility and they are going to use a wide variety of activities to achieve their mission," Rachael Horwitz, a Facebook spokeswoman, said via email. "So in that way this is not a foundation nor is it entirely charitable."

The notion of investing money in companies that tackle social issues isn't new, but it has gained more currency among a younger generation of philanthropists, particularly in the tech world.

Zuckerberg has also shown a previous interest in influencing public policy. He led other prominent Silicon Valley figures in forming a group, FWD.us, that lobbied and gave donations to congressional candidates in an unsuccessful effort to promote immigration reforms. Depending on how much of the new effort is devoted to lobbying, it could raise new questions about the influence of money in today's politics, some experts said.

In the letter to their daughter, Zuckerberg and Chan described their goals as "advancing human potential and promoting equality." They added: "We must make long term investments over 25, 50 or even 100 years. The greatest challenges require very long time horizons and cannot be solved by short term thinking."

While Zuckerberg promised to release more details in the future, he said the couple will transfer most of their wealth to the initiative "during our lives." The couple will be in charge of the initiative, although Zuckerberg won't be quitting his day job.

"I have a full time job running Facebook," he told the Associated Press in an interview last month, during which he discussed the couple's approach to philanthropy. Of his job at the social network, he added, "I'm going to be doing this for long time."

The Facebook co-founder is one of the world's wealthiest men. He and Chan, a 30-year-old pediatrician, have previously donated $100 million to public schools in Newark, New Jersey, and pledged $120 million to schools in poor communities of the San Francisco Bay Area. They've also given $75 million to the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, where Chan did her medical training.

In a statement, Facebook said the couple's plan to transfer their shares over time won't affect his status as controlling shareholder of the company. The company said Zuckerberg has committed to dispose of no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock every year for the next three years.

Zuckerberg and Chan had announced on Facebook last July that they were expecting a daughter, after Chan had three previous miscarriages. Horwitz said the baby was born early last week, but declined to say which day.

"Mom and baby are both healthy and doing well," Horwitz added. Zuckerberg has said he plans to take two months of paternity leave.

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and his wife are giving away most of their fortune 12/01/15 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2015 11:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Starbucks to close all Teavana locations, including five in Tampa Bay

    Retail

    Local Teavana locations include Tyrone Square in St. Petersburg, International Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park in Tampa, Brandon and Clearwater.

    Starbucks announced Thursday plans to shut down all 379 Teavana stores, citing "underperformance." Starbucks acquired the mall-based tea chain for $620 million in 2012. [ CANDICE CHOI | AP file photo]
  2. Trigaux: Closing Iron Yard coding school hits area tech hard but leaders talk of options

    Business

    The coming shutdown this fall of the Iron Yard software coding school in downtown St. Petersburg — announced this month as part of a national closing of all 15 Iron Yard locations — remains a shocking event to a Tampa Bay technology community that dreams big of becoming a major player in the Southeast if not …

    In better days last fall, friends and family of graduates at The Iron Yard, based in the Station House in downtown St. Petersburg, applaud during "Demo Day" when grads of the coding school show off their skills. Despite the local success and strong job placement by the coding school, The Iron Yard is closing all of its 15 locations across the country this summer. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. U.S. economy gathers steam in second quarter

    Business

    WASHINGTON — The U.S. economy revved up this spring after a weak start to the year, fueled by strong consumer spending. But the growth spurt still fell short of the optimistic goals President Donald Trump hopes to achieve through tax cuts and regulatory relief.

    A government report released Friday showed economic output picked up in the second quarter. 
[Associated Press file photo]
  4. Founder of Tampa home sharing platform questions Airbnb, NAACP partnership

    Business

    TAMPA — A Tampa rival to Airbnb, which was launched because of discrimination complaints on the dominant home sharing platform, has concerns about the new partnership between Airbnb and NAACP announced this week.

    Rohan Gilkes poses for a portrait at his home and business headquarters in Tampa. 

Innclusive, a Tampa-based start-up, is a home-sharing platform that focuses on providing a positive traveling experience for minorities. [CHARLIE KAIJO | Times]
  5. Appointments at Port Tampa Bay and Tampa General Medical Group highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Government

    Port Tampa Bay announced that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. Sowell, a former member of the U.S.Marine Corps, will support internal, external and special projects, assist the executive team with management oversight and serve as a liaison on a variety of port …

    Port Tampa Bay announced this week that Jamal Sowell has been named director of special projects. [Handout photo]