Upon announcing the birth of his daughter, Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to give 99 percent of his shares in Facebook to charity, totalling a whopping $45bn. The news was unveiled on Zuckerberg’s Facebook profile in an open letter to his newborn, named Max, during which the billionaire explains that he and his wife, Dr Priscilla Chan, “have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation”.
Naturally, many will find Zuckerberg’s decision to give away his fortune surprising, particularly at the young age of 30
Zuckerberg’s shares will be given away gradually over the course of his lifetime, with a cap of $1bn per year for the first three years.
The funds will be donated to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organisation the couple has founded with the aim of “advancing human potential and promoting equality”. In the extensive letter, the young billionaire lists their plans for long-term investments to tackle the world’s challenges, participation in policy and public debate, as well as driving technological innovations that can create change. Zuckerberg also speaks of a future in which personalised learning tools are available on the internet for all children around the globe, which can thus “give everyone a fair start in life”.
Naturally, many will find Zuckerberg’s decision to give away his fortune surprising, particularly at the young age of 30. Yet, there appears to be a growing tendency of the world’s wealthiest donating their billions earlier on in life, as opposed to in their wills and only to their families. The most obvious example to date is Bill and Melinda Gates, who, so far, have given away $34.5bn of their Microsoft wealth to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The couple also launched the Giving Pledge with Warren Buffet in 2010 in an effort to convince the wealthiest individuals in the US to donate at least half of their wealth to philanthropic causes. So far, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg and Larry Ellison have signed up to the pledge, along with several others.
As evidenced by this rising trend, it would seem that the world’s most successful business people are more aware of the impact that their wealth can have on the world and the needlessness of hoarding more money that they can possibly spend in a lifetime. An added benefit of striving to tackle the many problems facing the world today is the legacy that doing so leaves behind – a legacy that is far more powerful, far-reaching and lasting than their commercial successes could ever achieve.