Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder and chief executive of Facebook,announced on Tuesday that he and his wife would give 99 percent of their Facebook shares “during our lives” — holdings currently worth more than $45 billion — to charitable purposes.
The pledge was made in an open letter to their newborn daughter, Max, who was born about a week ago.
Mr. Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, said they were forming a new organization, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, to manage the money, through an unusual limited liability corporate structure. “Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,” they wrote.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s charitable plans are the latest indication of a growing interest in philanthropy among Silicon Valley’s young billionaires, who unlike previous generations of business tycoons, appear eager to spread their wealth while they are still young. Mr. Zuckerberg is 31, and Dr. Chan is 30.
Yet they are entering largely uncharted waters with a charity effort of such scale. They have not yet detailed how the money will be spent and the pace at which the money will be given out indicates they plan to take their time.
The couple have had mixed results in earlier charitable efforts.
In 2010, Mr. Zuckerberg and Dr. Chan gave $100 million to improve the public schools in Newark. The money expanded high-performing charter schools but encountered fierce resistance from many parents, community activists and unions. Mr. Zuckerberg has said he learned a lot from the experience.
Still, Larry Brilliant, who works on philanthropic issues with many Silicon Valley figures including Marc Benioff, the chief executive of Salesforce.com, and Jeff Skoll, the co-founder of eBay, said that both the scale and timing of Mr. Zuckerberg’s commitment, coming so early in his career, were rare.
“I hope this will be a model for Mark’s generation,” said Dr. Brilliant, a physician who also previously ran Google’s charitable arm,Google.org.
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