Zuckerberg, Chan Pledge 99 Percent of Fortune to Charity

In a letter to their newborn daughter, Facebook CEO and wife explain why they're planning to give it all away during their lifetimes.

Zuckerberg, Chan Pledge

Mark Zuckerberg has been around a mere 31 years, yet he's already made billions of dollars as co-founder, CEO and chairman of Facebook. Now he's planning to give away virtually all of that money to charity by the end of his time on Earth, however long that may be.

Like they say, it's only money—albeit a lot of money.

That was the announcement he made Dec. 1 following the birth of his first child — a daughter, Maxima — to he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, last week. In a letter posted on the social network to the newborn, Zuckerberg said the couple will see to it that 99 percent of their fortune will go to the benefit of others.

Go here to read Zuckerberg's entire letter.

Zuckerberg has a current net worth of about $46.8 billion, according to Forbes. He's a self-made billionaire whose fortune rose by about $13 billion in the past 12 months alone.

Here's an excerpt from the letter:

"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 personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.

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

Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, wrote on the comments section of the letter that "We're thrilled for both of you! Raising children is a great adventure and the best thing we have ever done together. You will be fantastic parents.

"As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you're setting today is an inspiration to us and the world.

"We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, 'seeds planted now will grow.' Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come."

The Gateses spend most of their time doing what Chan and Zuckerberg soon will be doing — giving away billions of dollars — as principals of the Seattle-based Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Pop singer Shakira wrote: "Your commitment to making the world a better place than you found it, and to empowering everyone to help make that a reality through all the tools you've listed here, education for all being one of them, show that success, when shared, has a multiplier effect. It's not about leaving anyone behind. It's about helping pull everyone, and humanity in general, forward.

"Thanks to your generosity, many will have the keys to unlock all of that untapped potential that has been there all along, waiting to be discovered."

More information on the new Chan Zuckerberg Initiative fund is forthcoming, Facebook said.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...