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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife say they’ll devote nearly all their wealth, which is roughly $45 billion to solving the world’s problems in celebration of their new baby daughter, Max.  Last week Zuckerberg’s wife, Priscilla Chan, gave birth to a 7-pound, 8-ounce daughter but the couple didn’t put out the news until Tuesday, when Zuckerberg posted it on Facebook, of course.

In the same post, Zuckerberg said over time he and Chan will, commit 99 percent of their Facebook stockholdings to such causes as fighting disease, improving education and “building strong communities.” The couple had previously pledged to give away at least half their assets during their lifetime, but hadn’t provided specifics.

The couple is forming a new organization, called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which will pursue those goals through a combination of charitable donations, private investment and promotion of government-policy reform.  The 31-year-old social media mogul and his wife wrote in a letter to their daughter, which they also posted on Facebook “Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today.”

The announcement stunned the charity world.  Phil Buchanan, president of the nonprofit Center for Effective Philanthropy said “It’s incredibly impressive and an enormous commitment that really eclipses anything that we’ve seen in terms of size.”

Rachael Horwitz, a Facebook spokeswoman, said via email “They want the most flexibility and they are going to use a wide variety of activities to achieve their mission. So in that way this is not a foundation nor is it entirely charitable.”

Zuckerberg has also shown a previous interest in influencing public policy as he led other prominent Silicon Valley figures in forming a group,, that lobbied and gave donations to congressional candidates in an unsuccessful effort to promote immigration reforms. In the letter to their daughter, Zuckerberg and Chan described their goals as “advancing human potential and promoting equality.”

They added: “We must make long term investments over 25, 50 or even 100 years. The greatest challenges require very long time horizons and cannot be solved by short term thinking.”  While Zuckerberg promised to release more details in the future, he said the couple will transfer most of their wealth to the initiative “during our lives.”

In a statement, Facebook said the couple’s plan to transfer their shares over time won’t affect his status as controlling shareholder of the company. The company said Zuckerberg has committed to dispose of no more than $1 billion of Facebook stock every year for the next three years.


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