Someone wise once said that fatherhood changes a man. Mark Zuckerberg may be an example of this premise, although he’s not newly charitable. In 2014, Zuckerberg and his wife (physician Priscilla Chan) donated $25 million to fight Ebola on a worldwide scale. They have enough money to burn as heat for the rest of their lives, but it’s still damn commendable that the Chan-Zuckerbergs donated so much. Do we see this magnitude of charitable action from proud billionaire Donald Trump? Nope.
Zuckerberg is in a particularly cheery mood lately after the birth of their first child, a daughter named Maxima. Her arrival follows a lengthy fertility battle, and in the spirit of celebration, Mark and Priscilla are donating 99 percent of their Facebook shares to charity. Zuckerberg revealed the news in a (lengthy) open letter to his daughter. He did so on Facebook, of course:
Today your mother and I are committing to spend our lives doing our small part to help solve these challenges. I will continue to serve as Facebook’s CEO for many, many years to come, but these issues are too important to wait until you or we are older to begin this work. As you begin the next generation of the Chan Zuckerberg family, we also begin the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to join people across the world 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.
Not bad, not bad. As of December 1, 2015, Forbes places the Zuckerbergs’ net worth at $46.8 billion. If that number is accurate, they’ll still have almost $2 billion left to live on, plus future earnings. This kind of money feels like make believe to most of us, but the Zuckerbergs have made it a reality.