By Kristen Nuzzolese
Money and Investing Editor
On Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan pledged to give away 99 percent of the Facebook shares they own to charity.
Mark is as young as 31 years old and Priscilla is 30 years old.
Mark Zuckerberg made this pledge in an open letter to his daughter, Max, after she was born only a week ago.
The letter states:
“Today your mother and I are committing to spend our lives doing our small part to help solve these challenges. I will continue to serve as Facebook’s CEO for many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work. By starting at a young age, we hope to see compounding benefits throughout our lives.
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 percent 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.”
This amount has set a new standard for philanthropic donations in history by individuals of such a young age.
The sum of this amount is said to equal $45 billion dollars over their lifetime.
However, there has been some backlash ever since Zuckerberg’s blogpost where this statement was made. In his post, he pledged the “current” amount that the 99 percent is worth.
According to Fortune magazine, “As of last check, Zuckerberg holds 426,252,091 of Facebook stock. At market open on Tuesday, they were worth $44.68 billion. At market close that very same day, they were valued nearly $1 billion higher. One year earlier, they were valued just below $32.9 billion. Two years earlier they were worth $20 billion. Zuckerberg is just 31 years old. Chan is 30.”
“The plan to donate/invest/etc. the shares over the course of their lifetimes — which should mean at least 40 more years. Just assuming very modest stock price appreciation, the $45 billion figure would be the low-water mark. Moreover, the plan is to recommit any investment proceeds, thus only further expanding the pot.”
In the upcoming years, Zuckerberg’s 99 percent pledge will certainly add up to more than $45 billion dollars.
The couple agreed to not donate more than $1 billion per year for the next three years.
Through this whole philanthropic process, Zuckerberg and Chan decided to open up a new company, The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. The Chan Zuckerberg initiative is a limited liability corporate structure that will be used to manage the money they donate. This nonprofit company will donate charitable funds and back political causes.
As stated by Bloomberg Business, the purpose of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is to “focus on ‘advancing human potential and promoting equality’… the initiative will make long-term investments in areas such as health and education, while working to decrease inequality and building technology to bring about change”.
Being the youngest to ever make such a philanthropic contribution, Zuckerberg is following in the footsteps of industrialists Andrew Carnegie and John Rockefeller.
These are men in which have created some of the largest foundations in America.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, December 8th print edition.
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