Mark Zuckerberg and wife mark birth of baby by giving away 99pc of Facebook's $45bn fortune
Published 02/12/2015 | 02:30
Mark Zuckerberg and his wife have said they plan to donate 99pc of their shares in the social network to charity.
The stock, which is worth around $45bn, will be given to causes that "advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation", Zuckerberg said in an open letter on Tuesday night.
"We are committed to doing our small part to help create this world for all children" He plans to give away no more than $1bn a year for the next three years while holding on to majority voting rights in the social network.
It came as the billionaire and his wife, Priscilla Chan, revealed that they have become parents for the first time following the birth of their daughter, Max.
"Priscilla and I are so happy to welcome our daughter Max into this world. For her birth, we wrote a letter to her about the world we hope she grows up in.
"It's a world where our generation can advance human potential and promote equality - by curing disease, personalizing learning, harnessing clean energy, connecting people, building strong communities, reducing poverty, providing equal rights and spreading understanding across nations.
"We are committed to doing our small part to help create this world for all children. We will give 99pc of our Facebook shares -- currently about $45bn - during our lives to join many others in improving this world for the next generation.
"Your mother and I don't yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future"
"Thank you to everyone in this community for all your love and support during the pregnancy. You've given us hope that together we can build this world for Max and all children."
The billionaire published a picture on Facebook of himself holding his daughter, Max, alongside wife Priscilla Chan, whom he married in 2012.
"More than half of the world's population - more than 4bn people - don't have access to the internet"
"Your mother and I don't yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future. 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," he wrote.
Zuckerberg recently said he would take two months of paternity leave, pointing to studies that highlight the importance of spending time with newborn children.
“Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” he wrote in a post on the social network. “At Facebook we offer our US employees up to four months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.”
In order to distribute their wealth, the couple have set up the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which seeks to "advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research, and energy".
Through the venture, Zuckerberg and Chan have already donated $120m to support education in underserved communities in San Francisco; $75m to the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital; $25m to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to fight Ebola and $100m to the Newark Public School System.
The couple's latest proposals include personalised learning via technology, preventing diseases and giving everyone in the world access to the internet.
"More than half of the world's population - more than 4bn people - don't have access to the internet," Zuckerberg wrote. "If our generation connects them, we can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty."
Zuckerberg, who joins fellow billionaires Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in pledging to give away his fortune to good causes, vowed to remain as Facebook's chief executive for "many, many years to come".
Melinda Gates, wife of the Microsoft founder, commented on Zuckerberg's open letter. "As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world.
"We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, 'seeds planted now will grow'. Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come," she wrote.
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, wrote: "This is a beautiful letter and an incredible commitment to future generations. Congratulations Mark and Priscilla – this is the start of another amazing chapter in your lives."
US billionaire business Michael Bloomberg added: “My hat’s off to Mark for making a decision he’ll never regret and making a difference he’ll forever be remembered for. Devoting his wealth to philanthropy at such an young age will not only benefit people from around the world for decades to come, it will also set an example for everyone in his generation who has the means to give.
"Mark’s decision shows that when it comes to philanthropy, 30 is the new 70. The only question now is: How many of his peers in Silicon Valley and beyond will join him?”
Zuckerberg, 31, founded the $268bn social network while studying at Harvard university. He met Chan, 30, at a Harvard party in 2003 before she became a pediatrician.
Chan was one of the first people to join Facebook, on February 5, 2004. The site now boasts 1.49bn monthly active users, with Facebook accounting for one out of every five minutes people spend on mobile phones in the US.
Zuckerberg overtook Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad earlier this year to become the ninth richest person in the world, with a fortune of $43.1bn.