In a letter to his newborn daughter, Max, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to give 99% of his Facebook shares away over his lifetime - worth nearly $45 billion at current valuations.
The letter, posted to Facebook's official blog, also announced the establishment of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative - founded cooperatively between Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan - 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% 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.
For those skeptical of Zuckerberg's promise to donate 99% of his Facebook shares over his lifetime, the announcement required a formal SEC filing, adding another layer of legitimacy to the promise.
Sales and gifts of shares by Mr. Zuckerberg will be disclosed publicly in accordance with the rules established by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission under Section 16 of the Exchange Act. As of the date of this filing, Mr. Zuckerberg beneficially owns approximately 4 million shares of Class A common stock and approximately 419 million shares of Class B common stock.
In addition to formalizing the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative and Zuckerberg's promise to donate shares, the SEC filing mentions that Zuckerberg will "sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years." According to the filing, Zuckerberg will keep enough stock to retain his voting majority for "the foreseeable future."
Zuckerberg's newly formed initiative with his wife takes some inspiration from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has a $44.3 billion endowment to address similar issues such as poverty, inequality, and human advancement. Zuckerberg will almost certainly plan for his initiative to have a comparable impact to Bill Gates' charitable efforts, but time will tell whether his efforts will be as successful.