(Reuters) Mark Zuckerberg will put 99 percent of his Facebook Inc (FB.O) shares, currently worth about $45 billion, into a new philanthropy project focusing on human potential and equality, he and his wife said Tuesday in a letter to their newborn daughter.
The plan, which was posted on the Facebook founder and chief executive officer’s page, attracted more than 570,000 “likes,” including from singer Shakira, former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. The Gates and other high-profile billionaires such as Warren Buffett have set up foundations of their own to dedicate their massive fortunes to philanthropic endeavors.
Zuckerberg, 31, who will control the new initiative jointly with his wife, Priscilla Chan, while remaining in charge of the world’s largest online social network, said he would sell or give up to $1 billion in shares in each of the next three years.
Zuckerberg will keep a controlling stake in Facebook, valued at $303 billion as of Tuesday’s close, for what the company called the “foreseeable future.” According to Facebook’s most recent proxy statement, Zuckerberg owned 4 million Class A shares and 422.3 million Class B shares, which have 10 times the voting power of A shares. Combined he held 54 percent of the voting power of the company’s shares.