Mark Zuckerberg And Priscilla Chan Have Baby, Promise To Give Away Fortune

Dec 1, 2015
Originally published on December 3, 2015 7:16 pm

Mark Zuckerberg is a dad! And he's marking the birth of his first child (and #GivingTuesday) with a promise to give away 99 percent of his shares in Facebook to make a brighter future.

In an open letter to Max, their newborn daughter, Zuckerberg, 31, and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan, 30, pledged to give 99 percent of their shares in Facebook — worth about $45 billion today — over the course of their lifetime.

The letter has a sweeping vision, traversing social and political issues that are controversial. Zuckerberg writes:

"Children who face traumatic experiences early in life often develop less healthy minds and bodies...

"If you have to wonder whether you'll have food or rent, or worry about abuse or crime, then it's difficult to reach your full potential.

"If you fear you'll go to prison rather than college because of the color of your skin, or that your family will be deported because of your legal status, or that you may be a victim of violence because of your religion, sexual orientation or gender identity, then it's difficult to reach your full potential."

He then emphasizes how investments in technology in particular can solve these problems. He writes: "People often think of the internet as just for entertainment or communication. But for the majority of people in the world, the internet can be a lifeline."

According to analyst estimates, for every 10 people who gain Internet access, one new job is created and one person is lifted out of poverty.

Call it a bit of a techno-utopian view of the world. It's the mantra he's been repeating since the creation of Internet.org, another major philanthropic effort he's made as CEO of Facebook.

According to an SEC filing, he and his wife are establishing a new entity, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, LLC, to manage the money. Zuckerberg says he will control the voting and disposition of any shares held by such entity.

Zuckerberg does not plan to leave Facebook. He writes he will remain CEO for "many, many years to come." He plans to sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years and will retain his majority voting position for the foreseeable future.

The young billionaire is not the first to make such a sweeping philanthropic gesture. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, along with his wife Melinda, launched one of the largest private foundations in the world, with an endowment in 2014 of $44 billion. In 2006, Warren Buffett promised to gradually give away all of his Berkshire Hathaway stock.

All three have signed the Giving Pledge, a commitment by the uber-wealthy to dedicate most of their wealth to philanthropy (just to be clear, the chief of Uber is not a signatory).

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Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now let's talk of a very privileged girl. She is the newborn baby of Mark Zuckerberg and Dr. Priscilla Chan. The Facebook founder and his wife announced the birth. And the couple also said that over time, they are giving away 99 percent of their shares in Facebook. NPR's Aarti Shahani reports.

AARTI SHAHANI, BYLINE: The pledge is worth about $45 billion today. That's a lot of money. But they plan to give it over the course of their lifetime. Zuckerberg and his wife made the announcement in the form of an open letter to Max, their newborn daughter, and in this video...

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

MARK ZUCKERBERG: Having this child has made us think about all of the things that should be improved in the world.

SHAHANI: Zuckerberg, who is 31, sitting beside Chan, who's 30.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

PRISCILLA CHAN: We need to make sure that there are investments in programs that ensure that the future isn't going to be like today. The future is going to be better than today.

SHAHANI: Investments is a key word here. The couple will put money into a newly formed Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC - LLC meaning not a charity. Whether or not it turns a profit, the point, they say, is to build strong and healthy communities. The Facebook chief indicates that could mean addressing things like prison reform, deportation, religious violence, sexual orientation.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

ZUCKERBERG: And I hope that not just our child but, you know, everyone in our community has an opportunity to go on and have an even bigger impact in the world.

SHAHANI: This is not the first such sweeping philanthropic gesture. Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and other uber-wealthy people have pledged to give much of their money to good causes too. Aarti Shahani, NPR News, Silicon Valley. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.