Zuckerberg to give away 99 per cent of his fortune, or about $US45 billion, to new charity

The Zuckerberg Chan Initiative will focus on personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Following the birth of their first child, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, and his wife ,Priscilla Chan, announced that they will give away 99 per cent of their Facebook shares, currently worth about $US45 billion, to a new charity the couple has founded.

The couple announced the birth of their daughter, Max, on Zuckerberg’s Facebook page. But the real news is a plan to establish the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative “to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation,” outlined in a letter addressed to Max.

“Our initial areas of focus will be personalised learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,” Zuckerberg and Chan wrote in the joint letter. They explained that “by starting at a young age, we hope to see compounding benefits throughout our lives.”

The charity will be funded, according to the letter, via 99 per cent of the Facebook shares that the couple holds together. The $US45 billion in shares will be donated “during our lives,” the couple wrote. Zuckerberg also said that he plans to continue to serve as Facebook CEO for “many, many, years to come.”

The story behind the story: Zuckerberg and Chan aren’t the first tech titans to announce they’ll donate the bulk of their fortunes to charity. Bill and Melinda Gates established an eponymous foundation designed to stamp out many first- and third-world problems, including poverty and shortfalls in education. Others—including AOL founder Steve Case, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, and Russian VC Yuri Milner—have signed the Giving Pledge, which calls for those who’ve signed in to give at least half their wealth to charitable causes either during their lives or after deaths.

The Zuckerbergs certainly aren’t obligated to donate their wealth to charity, but the money, and the purpose to which it will be put, will certainly help make the world a better place for their daughter. We can only guess that she (and perhaps any future siblings) will be heir to the Zuckerberg’s 1 per cent reserve—which we can currently estimate at about $US450 million. Not a bad nest egg to inherit.

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