How the Zuckerbergs Can Give Away Their Facebook Fortune and Still Control Company

Zuckerberg, 31, will still maintain majority voting control at Facebook.

December 02, 2015, 10:26 AM

— -- Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Dr. Priscilla Chan have used a deeply personal moment -- the birth of their daughter -- to announce they plan to gradually give away 99 percent of their Facebook shares to a new initiative that will tackle lofty goals, including curing disease, reducing poverty and harvesting clean energy.

The Zuckerbergs are planning to give away what amounts to about $45 billion at today's value, but it won't be all at once. The couple plans to gradually donate the shares to the newly formed Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Zuckerberg, 31, will also keep his majority voting stake at Facebook, even as he transfers more shares to the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

"Mark Zuckerberg announced that, during his lifetime, he will gift or otherwise direct substantially all of his shares of Facebook stock, or the net after-tax proceeds from sales of such shares, to further the mission of advancing human potential and promoting equality by means of philanthropic, public advocacy, and other activities for the public good," according to a Facebook filing with the SEC on Tuesday.

Zuckerberg will sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock each year for the next three years and will retain his majority voting position in the company "for the foreseeable future," the filing said.

Daniel Ives, managing director of the technology, media and telecom research group at FBR Capital Markets, told ABC News that he doesn’t foresee any issues when it comes to Zuckerberg's controlling interest in Facebook.

"Just as we have seen with Bloomberg, Buffett, Gates and now Mark, we see this purely as a precedent setting charitable pledge with no other implications. Hopefully this sets the tone for other billionaires to follow these business titans,” he said.

The couple announced the gift in a letter posted on Facebook to their newborn daughter Max and laid out their vision for changing the world to help give the next generation a better future.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative's mission will be to "join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation," the letter said.

"Our initial areas of focus will be personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities," the proud new parents wrote in the letter. They said they would provide more details "in the coming months once we settle into our new family rhythm and return from our maternity and paternity leaves."

Over the course of his wife's pregnancy, Zuckerberg has used Facebook -- a platform he built in his Harvard dorm room -- to share personal news about issues he and his wife have faced. When the couple announced their pregnancy, Zuckerberg wrote about the couple's struggles with starting a family and the "lonely experience" of having suffered three miscarriages.

Zuckerberg made headlines last month when he announced his choice to take two months of paternity leave once his daughter was born, sharing with his followers that it was a "very personal decision."

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