Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today said he and his wife would give away 99 percent of their shares to “advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation.” His shares are currently worth around $45 billion.
His pledge was, still, essentially a footnote in a long letter addressed to his new daughter, Maxima Chan Zuckerberg (Max for short), whose birth was announced on Facebook. Zuckerberg in November said he planned to take two months of paternity leave after his daughter was born.
“Your mother and I don’t yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future,” the letter begins. “Your new life is full of promise, and we hope you will be happy and healthy so you can explore it fully. You’ve already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today.”
As you begin the next generation of the Chan Zuckerberg family, we also begin the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation. Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.We will give 99% of our Facebook shares — currently about $45 billion — during our lives to advance this mission. We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is going to be a new organization, formed as a limited liability company that is controlled by Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan. Zuckerberg will still control his shares. It plans to fund non-profit organizations, make private investments and participate in policy debates, Facebook said in a released statement. Any profits from investments in companies will be used to fund additional work to advance the mission, the company said.
Zuckerberg will maintain control of his shares as a result of his control over the initiative. And over the course of their lives, the net after-tax proceeds from the sale of the shares will “be used to advance the mission of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative,” the company said. It’s not expected to impact Zuckerberg’s status as a controlling stockholder of Facebook for the foreseeable future, with Zuckerberg committing to dispose of no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years, according to the company.
This is just one of Zuckerberg’s philanthropic efforts. Yesterday, he said that he and Bill Gates were teaming up with other tech executives to start the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which invests in zero-carbon energy technology around the world. That also includes members like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Masayoshi Son.
Here’s a video that Zuckerberg and Chan posted on Facebook discussing the announcement: