The CEO of Facebook and his partner, Priscilla Chan, announced yesterday that not only had they been blessed with the arrival of a baby girl, Max — but that they would also be blessing the world with the birth of a new charity organisation: the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.
Pictured, Bill and Melinda Gates:
Over Mark Zuckerberg’s lifetime, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will be the recipient of 99% of his Facebook shares — a figure somewhere in the $45 billion silly-stratosphere, leaving poor Mark and Priscilla with a pittance of roughly half a billion dollars. (Just for reference, Bill and Melinda have thus far given $31.5 billion. Forbes has some more numbers here).
The charity’s stated purpose will be to, ‘further the mission of advancing human potential and promoting equality by means of philanthropic, public advocacy, and other activities for the public good,’ and the Zuckerbergs made the announcement in part via a letter to their newborn daughter:
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.
Guys, it looks like our Facebook activity will finally do some good! All
those Likes of ours that personal information of ours sold to the highest bidder will finally translate to real-world results! Take that, internet cynics!
Because even those cynics would have to admit that it is lovely to see the capitalist übermenschen of the world giving something back. Of course, as Mark says in his letter to Max, ‘all lives have equal value,’ which presumably means we can expect the charity to act as a great leveller — sweeping the board clean and righting the table. Indeed the Initiative does say that its mission will be to, ‘advance human potential and promote equality in areas such as health, education, scientific research, and energy.’
See, not only do the super-rich get to decide what to do with their money for themselves, they also get to decide what is good for the rest of us. The
rampant inequality perpetuated by big business bureaucracy of big government just cannot compete with the massive tax evasion by ompanies like Facebook innovation and drive of people like Zuckerberg.
Philanthropy is a funny thing. It can do so much good, but it is a benign part of an otherwise fundamentally malignant tumour — a chirpy adjunct speaking sincere and comforting words to the host while its life drains away.
- Late update from Buzzfeed:
Indeed, very many news organizations described the donation as either going to charity, or a charitable trust.
Not so, a Facebook spokeswoman confirmed in an email to BuzzFeed News. The spokeswoman further confirmed the initiative is structured as an LLC, and not as a charitable trust.
While charity will certainly be one of the money’s destinations, it will be far from the only one.
The money, according to a Facebook SEC filing, will go to “philanthropic, public advocacy, and other activities for the public good.”
One such activity: private investment. A Facebook release this afternoon stated as much. “The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will pursue its mission by funding non-profit organizations, making private investments and participating in policy debates, in each case with the goal of generating positive impact in areas of great need,” it said. “Any profits from investments in companies will be used to fund additional work to advance the mission.”