Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, and his wife, Priscilla Chan, had a baby; but that’s not all they gave birth to.
In an open letter to their newborn daughter, Max, the couple announced the formation of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the front through which they plan to give away 99% of their stock in Facebook, currently valued at $45bn.
“Dear Max,” they began,
Your mother and I don’t yet have the words to describe the hope you give us for the future. Your new life is full of promise, and we hope you will be happy and healthy so you can explore it fully. You’ve already given us a reason to reflect on the world we hope you live in.
Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today.
While headlines often focus on what’s wrong, in many ways the world is getting better. Health is improving. Poverty is shrinking. Knowledge is growing. People are connecting. Technological progress in every field means your life should be dramatically better than ours today.
We will do our part to make this happen, not only because we love you, but also because we have a moral responsibility to all children in the next generation.
We believe all lives have equal value, and that includes the many more people who will live in future generations than live today. Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world, not just those already here.
But right now, we don’t always collectively direct our resources at the biggest opportunities and problems your generation will face.
The letter appeared in a Facebook post on Mr. Zuckerberg’s page, in which they outlined their philanthropic vision.
“Our hopes for your generation focus on two ideas” they said, addressing their daughter, “advancing human potential and promoting equality.”
A more formal announcement appeared for shareholders on the Securities and Exchange Commission.
This is not the Facebook CEO’s first foray into charity, who just last week joined Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and others, in pledging to invest in renewable energy; it is, however, his largest.
Commentators, including Joel Fleishman, a law professor at Duke University, have expressed hope that the pledge will encourage similar actions amongst other members of the ultra-rich—especially the young ones.
“I celebrate his decision to do it as I celebrate Warren Buffet’s decision to give all that money to the Gates Foundation. People who’ve made all that money are by nature competitive; someone that young giving away that much money will undoubtedly stimulate others to do likewise” he said.