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Zuckerberg to give away 99% of Facebook shares

Mark Zuckerberg with daughter Max and wife Priscilla Chan

Mark Zuckerberg with daughter Max and wife Priscilla Chan

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg will give 99 per cent of his shares in the company, currently worth about $45 billion, for a philanthropy project.

Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, said in a letter to their newborn daughter on Tuesday that the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will focus on advancing human potential and promoting equality. The duo will control the new initiative jointly.

The 31-year-old Zuckerberg, who is also Facebook’s CEO, joins Microsoft founder Bill Gates and billionaire Warren Buffett in giving away a large part of their wealth for philanthropic ventures.

In the letter of their baby Maxima, nicknamed Max, Zuckerberg and his doctor wife Priscilla Chan wrote, “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 personalised learning, curing diseases, connecting people and building strong communities.

We will give 99 per cent of our Facebook shares—currently worth about $45 billion—during our lives to advance this mission. We know this is a small contribution compared with all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others.”

Zuckerberg owns about four million Class A shares in Facebook and approximately 419 million super-voting shares, Facebook said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg’s plan, posted on his Facebook page, received more than 885,000 ‘likes’ including from Melinda Gates, wife of Bill Gates; singer Shakira and former California governor and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Zuckerberg said he would remain in charge of the world’s largest online social network and would sell or give up to $1 billion in shares in each of the next three years.

Facebook has about 130 million users in India.

Wipro chairman Azim Premji has been ranked 4th in the recently released report titled World’s Top Philanthropists by wealth consultancy Wealth-X and Business Insider. According to the report, Premji has donated $8 billion (nearly Rs 53,360 crore) to charity.

Zuckerberg was ranked 13th on the list with a donation of about $1.6 billion.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates was ranked No. 1 on the list of top philanthropists, with lifetime donations of $27 billion as of October 2015. Chairman and CEO of holding company Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett—who has given $21.5 billion in donations—came second. Buffett had committed to donate 85 per cent of his wealth to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Soros Fund Management founder George Soros and retail magnate Charles Francis Feeney were the other two featured in the top five.

Premji was crowned ‘Most Generous Indian’ by Hurun India Philanthropy List 2014. Anil Agarwal, founder and chairman of Vedanta Resources; HCL founder Shiv Nadar; Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani were featured on the report as other top philanthropists in India.

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