Basking in the glow of new parenthood, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan said Tuesday they plan to give away 99 percent of their fortune to good causes over their lifetime.
Yes, that’s a lot of money – the value of their Facebook shares currently stands at around $45 billion. However, the plan to transfer the shares over time won’t affect Zuckerberg’s status as controlling shareholder of the company.
Giving birth not only to a baby daughter called Max, but also to a new charitable organization called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the Facebook boss wrote in an open letter to their newborn that they want to do what they can to make the world a better place “because we have a moral responsibility to all our children in the next generation.”
Highlighting health issues, the man behind the world’s biggest social networking service said that with advancing technology, the world has “a real shot preventing, curing or managing all or most [diseases] in the next 100 years,” adding, “Once we recognize that your generation and your children’s generation may not have to suffer from disease, we collectively have a responsibility to tilt our investments a bit more towards the future to make this reality. Your mother and I want to do our part.”
That “part” involves using their fortune to invest in projects aimed at helping to improve the lives of others. He described the mission of the new charity as “advancing human potential and promoting equality,” with initial efforts likely to be geared toward areas such as curing disease, personalised learning, building strong communities, and, of course, connecting people.
The Giving Pledge
Zuckerberg signed up to the Giving Pledge – otherwise known as the billionaire philanthropists’ club – back in 2010. The organization seeks to convince the super-wealthy that passing their fortune to good causes rather than relatives is a more constructive use of their riches. Founded by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates, others who’ve signed up include Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, and Richard Branson.
Max was born last week, though the couple only announced her birth on Tuesday. Zuckerberg recently said he intends to take two months’ paternity leave, while Facebook announced last week that all employees at the company will now be offered up to four months of parental leave.