December 3, 2015
On the first day of Christmas, whilst the rest of us were getting excited about opening the first door of our advent calendars, powerhouse couple Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, announced the birth of their first child, Max. And if this wasn’t enough excitement for two of Silicon Valley’s highest fliers, amalgamated with this life-changing event, they also informed the world of their most recent and prolific act of philanthropy.
The couple have pledged to donate 99% of their Facebook shares to their newly launched Chan Zuckerberg Initiative – now one of the World’s biggest charities (in case you were wondering, their shares are currently worth about $45bn). The charity will be directed by Zuckerberg himself and it’s forecasted to be worth up to $3bn by 2018. Initially their initiative will be focusing on curing disease, education and connectivity.
And what better way for Zuckerberg to make these announcements than through a heartfelt letter to his new-born child, on Facebook. In his letter he stated that the aim of their new charitable initiative is to “advance human potential and promote equality for all,” in a bid to make the world a better place for little Max to live in and for all future generations. One of the overarching messages behind the letter is that “our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here”. There is always a little public scepticism around Zuckerberg’s actions and this latest news has resulted in more than a little bit of trolling. Others however have showed their support and admiration for the couples approach to making a meaningful and positive impact on the world. You can read the full letter here and decide for yourself if this is a well-intentioned post or just another fantastic PR opportunity.
At the tender ages of 31 and 30 respectively, Mark and Priscilla don’t intend to donate their shares to their new charity immediately, but over the course of the couple’s lives. Warren Buffet, Billionaire investor, praised the couple’s actions and stated that when it comes to giving away your fortune, “30 is the new 70”. Young self-made billionaires tend be competitive in nature and there is already some debate about the impact the couple’s actions will have in spurring on a wider philanthropic movement within young wealthy billionaires to follow in the same vein.