The social media platform’s CEO could sell over $13 billion worth of stock to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
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Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg sold $108.6 million in his company’s stock this week, the first step in a previously announced move to increase funding for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, a company set up with the philanthropic aim of funding improvements in health, education, science and energy. Among its announced initiatives are promoting STEM education in underserved schools and criminal justice reform.
The sale, first reported by Recode, was expressly made to facilitate a pledge Zuckerberg made after the birth of his daughter two years ago to sell 99% of his Facebook shares for the benefit of the initiative. The shares were then valued at about $45 billion, though Facebook stock has since nearly doubled. Zuckerberg said that he would sell or gift no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock annually for that purpose, but has since said he would accelerate that pace.
Zuckerberg’s new plan, which was announced last September, will see him sell between 35 million to 75 million shares before March 2019. If the maximum number of shares are sold, that could mean letting go of over $13 billion worth of Facebook equity between now and next spring. “The funds will go to support a range of CZI’s philanthropic activities and operations for many years to come,” a spokesperson for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative told Recode. (The initiative also takes its name from Priscilla Chan, the medical doctor married to the Facebook co-founder.)
Facebook stock has skyrocketed in the past two years and Zuckerberg, who holds about 17% of company equity, completed a $42.5 million sale as recently as last November. Forbes pegs the billionaire’s net worth at $71.5 billion.
Despite Facebook’s meteoric rise, the world’s largest social media platform has come under heavy criticism. Many media companies and politicians allege it facilitates the spread of “fake news” thanks to an editorial policy that many characterize as nonexistent. There are also nascent signs that the company’s flagship platform is falling out of favor with the Gen Z set, who seem to prefer more intimate apps like Snapchat.
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