Facebook CEO Wanted to Donate $100M Quietly to Avoid Bad PR

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Sept. 24 gave $100 million to boost education in Newark, N.J. Facebook was reluctant to announce the effort for fear of letting a good public relations opportunity be eclipsed by the premier of "The Social Network."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg agreed to plunk down $100 million worth of his company stock to seed Startup: Education, an effort to boost the public school system in Newark, N.J.

The founder of the world's largest social network made the announcement Sept. 24 on a conference call with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory A. Booker, just hours after revealing the initiative live on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Zuckerberg is making the initial investment, which will span the next 5 year, but he will not oversee the funds. Booker and Christie will appropriate the funds as they see fit while Zuckerberg continues to build out Facebook, which sports more than 500 million users.

However, Facebook fought to push back the announcement because it fell on the same day a controversial movie about the company, The Social Network, was set to premier in New York City.

Zuckerberg and Booker confirmed haggling over the timing of the decision today on the call.

When asked whether the announcement was timed to boost Zuckerberg's reputation ahead of the movie, which essentially paints the young CEO as a greedy, back-stabbing programmer, Zuckerberg said:

"The timing was driven by the needs of Newark. The governor and the mayor can speak to this. As Oprah mentioned on the show today... the bit I was actually most sensitive about with the movie timing -- I didn't want the press about The Social Network movie to get conflated with the Newark project, so I was thinking about doing this anonymously."

Booker corroborated Zuckerberg's comment, noting there was some tense moments between himself, Christie and Zuckerberg when discussing whether or not to do the announcement the same day as the premier of the film, which opens nationally Oct. 1.

"I think the Governor and I were really pressing to go faster and quicker," Booker said. "The movie actually became a complication because Mark's team did not believe it would be good for him to make a public announcement at this time because of the natural cynicism" perpetuated by the media.