Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan welcome daughter Max, pledge 99% of wealth

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Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg welcomed daughter Max last week. Everyone is reported to be happy, healthy and basking in the bliss of being freshly minted parents. Naturally, they took to Facebook to brag about their new arrival (new parents – amiright?) However, along with the traditional “She’s Here!” post, they added a less traditional Open Letter to their daughter in which they pledge to save the world for Max and her generation:

Along with the birth announcement — which included a sweet photo of the new family of three — the proud new parents announced the foundation of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization with the mission to advance human potential and promote equality. In an open letter to their little one, the couple revealed they will contribute 99 percent of their Facebook shares — currently worth about $45 billion — during their lives to advance the cause, in addition to outlining their hopes for Max’s future.

 [From People]

Let’s get the superficial out of the way: Max. I love it – boy or girl. Do you think that’s it? Not a nickname? Do you think she is a Chan or a Zuckerberg? Both work really well but Max Chan is a great name, sounds like a Private Eye. Likely it will be a hyphen of the two names.

As for that other part, the part where the Chan Zuckerbergs save the world. Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 8.49.27 PM

You can read the whole Open Letter to Max here. It’s beautifully discusses how they see the Initiative’s mission to advance human potential and promote equality“ and the reasons they have focused on those two principles.

One thing stressed throughout the passionate letter is that they are using their experiences (and likely his association with the Gates and their philanthropic endeavors) to identify the problems that plague children. More so, they stress repeatedly that they are still figuring this out and will continue to determine how best to meet their goals throughout this journey as well as making sure their goals are what Max’s generation needs:

It will take many years to fully develop this model. But it’s another example of how advancing human potential and promoting equality are tightly linked. If we want either, we must first build inclusive and healthy communities.

[from Facebook]

I think Mark really took the Newark Public School situation to heart. I believe he is admitting he has learned that money actually can’t fix everything and in addition to pledging these funds, they are also pledging to spend the money prudently. I like that. I like billionaires saying they have learned from their mistakes. I like them admitting they don’t have all the answers and will seek out those best to educate them.

That’s one hell of a push present. Enjoy your choker, Kim.

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83 Responses to “Mark Zuckerberg & Priscilla Chan welcome daughter Max, pledge 99% of wealth”

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  1. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    Really nice. I think Max is a cute nickname for a girl, but not so much a real name. But they seem like truly good people, and I’m glad they’re happy.

    • Snazzy says:

      I think I saw on Facebook that her full name is Maxima :)
      I do love the idea of their building a foundation the way the Gates’ did.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        There is just one fly in the ointment…the Chan Zuckerberg initiative is organized as a for-profit LLC, not a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It can thus spend money on anything, including for-profit endeavours, and is not subject to charity registration and reporting requirements in any state.

        I want to believe that this Iniative will do lots of good, but I am not convinced they will be big donors to lots of worthy causes. The Iniative’s goals “advancing human potential” and “promoting equality” are vague at best and their statement offered no specifics about how they will achieve these goals or measure their progress.

      • T.Fanty says:

        That might be because it’s all coming from one private source. I used to work for a 501 (c) (3) and there were specific stipulations about how the income had to balance out.

      • Fanny says:

        Charities have a lot of restrictions on them in terms of what they can do and say. A for-profit model allows them to do what they want. It’s their $45 billion to do with what they want, nobody is requiring them to give it away. As long as they don’t pursue outside donations (which they can’t since it’s not a charity), it’s cool with me.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        They cannot pursue charitable donations as an LLC, but there is nothing to stop them from seeking new investors and using the money to develop for-profit projects. The LLC structure might also help them tax-wise, but tax law is not my forte so I will defer to others on that point.

        This has been painted as a huge charitable gesture in the media, but it might not be one at all. Given Zuckerberg’s past history of screwing people over, I will need to see the receipts before I buy that this is truly an act of philanthropy.

      • BooBooLaRue says:

        @BearcatLawyer, thank you for that information, I had a feeling that it wasn’t all feel goody. Welcome Maxima!

      • SnarkySnarkers says:

        Yep. I would also like to see the receipts. I think his wife is a pretty decent human being but I have my doubts about him. Good on both of them if this is true though. Time will tell I suppose.

    • LadyMTL says:

      At first I thought that her name might have been Maxine (which I don’t like) but then if it is Maxima – as Snazzy says – that’s a lot better, IMHO. I think Max Chan is a cool name, almost superhero-esque. And they really put the icing on the proverbial cake with that awesome donation.

      Congrats to them! :D

  2. Jo says:

    This is sooo nice :) . I love the name Max for a girl.

  3. Shambles says:

    Yay for genuinely good people!

    • Esmom says:

      +1 A bright spot amidst so much gloomy news.

    • Size Does Matter says:

      Quite the redemption arc for Mr. Social Network. Pretty amazing.

      • Original T.C. says:

        Thing is I’m sure Zuckerberg is driven and aggressive but I still think a lot of The Social Network wasn’t an accurate telling of his story. For one it completely white-washed his then girlfriend Priscilla Chan from the story.

        I really like what he and Doc. Priscilla are trying to do for their newborn’s generation. That family picture of them is just so lovely. #beautifulfamily

      • M.A.F. says:

        Social Network is written by Aaron Sorkin and he is played by Jesse Eisenberg so take the characterization with a grain of salt.

    • vauvert says:

      In the last few weeks I have changed my opinion of Mark completely. Sounds great and glad they are following in the footsteps of the Gates’.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        Except they are not. See my comment above. Their Iniative is not organized as a nonprofit foundation or trust.

      • DollyDahl says:

        By operating as an LLC and not a non-profit, their Initiative is able to partake in lobbying and public policy advocacy.

      • Alex says:

        What @Dolly said. Mark has shifted some of his efforts on policies lately and not just throwing his money places. But actually meeting with people to see how changes can be made politically. He’s learning and I’m not mad at it.

      • BearcatLawyer says:

        It’s his money. He can use it any way he wants. But it is not the same setup as Bill and Melinda Gates’ foundation and its motives may not be entirely philanthropic, something that has been largely overlooked in the media.

      • Kathy says:

        The LLC is unusual, definitely. And some of what I’ve read about his politics makes me wonder what he’s going to do. It’ll be interesting watching but for now I’ll withhold judgement and hope for the best!

    • Mgsota says:

      So amazing. I’m can’t even gather the words…its incredible.

      Makes materialistic, selfish people like the Kardashians look even worse.

    • Trillion says:

      Everyday I drive past the brand new Zuckerberg Hospital in San Francisco (formerly known as SF General Hospital). This is our trauma center and group of clinics that takes all people – serving many homeless and under/un-insured. What an amazing contribution to our community.

  4. Longhairdontcare says:

    Really wonderful news. Enjoy the choker Kim. classic!!

    • DivineMsM says:

      This is great news, yes. But, I think I am a financial hoarder, because my first reaction was “no, no, no, no!” I can’t explain it. Something about giving away ALL that money (even though they’d still have enough money for many lifetimes with what’s left) made me uncomfortable.

      • K says:

        It was mine and it’s probably because we don’t have that kind of money. I’d image the 1% they are keeping is close to a billion so really it’s not like they are going to suffer but for me and you to see someone give up 99% of their money it’s like are you mad? How will you survive?!?! So when I took a breath and realized the vast difference in our bank accounts I was like yeah this is awesome and the right thing to do! But would be insane for the average person.

  5. Falula says:

    I have mixed feelings about him, but this is really excellent. I may or may not have cried my eyes out reading the whole letter yesterday.

  6. Reine_Didon says:

    It gives me hope when I see more billionaires engaging in humanitarian work. Part of my studies are on Global Health and Gates foundation has done a lot to improve health in Africa. But the wirld still needs so much more help. So Bravo to them !

  7. suze says:

    Maxima – if indeed that is her full name, I have not done the research – is a gorgeous name. There is a Queen Maxima of the Netherlands who is brilliant and bubbly, so the name has good connotations for me.

    The Chan-Zuckerbergs are doing a great thing. I wish them well with their new addition!

    • Mgsota says:

      It is Maxima, Mark says so on Facebook. Beautiful name.

    • DivineMsM says:

      I can only think of the Nissan Maxima. I think I like Max much better, albeit, it’s not much different from “North” is it? It’s means supreme; the uppermost point.

      • Valois says:

        I think there’s a huge difference. Max in is different (longer) versions has been a popular name in my countries for decades and not only here. North is just some made up nonsense.

  8. michelle b says:

    What a sweet and passionate letter! I love that they are going the way of Bill and Melinda Gates. Congrats to the Chan Zuckerburgs.

    I love the name Maxima too, and I like that they call her Max instead of Maxi. I really dislike the nickname Maxi.

  9. tracking says:

    That is totally, truly lovely on all counts.

  10. EscapedConvent says:

    Max is a great name—one of those names that fits Max no matter what age the Max is. And Max Chan is ~totally~ the name of a private eye! Very Sam Spade.

    Now Kanye and Kim will have to think of a way to outdo Chan and Zuckerberg—IF they can afford to…..(snicker)

  11. kri says:

    “Max Chan” is so badass. What an awesome name for a female superhero. Love it.

  12. Denise says:

    Take note, Trump.

  13. Miss M says:

    Great letter and initiative!

  14. Lucy says:

    Congrats and good for them!!! Mark and Chris Hemsworth should hang out sometime.

  15. msw says:

    “That’s one hell of a push present. Enjoy your choker, Kim.”

    This comment is everything.

  16. Who ARE these people? says:

    Good for them, they seem so sweet together. Beautiful baby. Charming intentions. Here’s hoping. The Gates have done a lot of good (after MS foisted decades of overpriced malware on the world, too!).

    And now, at such a happy moment, I kind of regret to add this. I wish we didn’t have to rely on the goodwill of of the very wealthy to help correct some of the terrible social problems created by other billionaires who are not so well intended. I wish they’d put just a fraction of their money and influence toward fixing a political system that will continue to perpetuate inequality and injustice long after they finish stuffing dollar bills into the holes in the dike.

    The reactionary Koch Brothers/Art Pope “initiative” has embedded itself deep into the heart of our governing bodies, from local school boards to state legislatures to the Capitol dome. Something tells me that’s where the “smart but evil” money went. Overturn Citizens United and you can do more good with that one, simple lever than with a lot of worthwhile projects.
    Curb the power of K St. lobbyists and fix campaign financing and you reduce the power of the NRA, Big Pharma, Big Food, Big Oil, etc. to kill, cheat, sicken and pollute the population and the planet.

    I don’t want to have to depend upon the kindness of wealthy strangers, because other wealthy strangers don’t care. I like that Bill Gates and Warren Buffet talk about the necessity of the rich paying their fair share in taxes. I hope they’re putting something toward making that happen. But for every Gates and Buffet there’s a Koch and a Pope. It starts to feel like the King Kong vs Godzilla of rich people and a healthy government of, by and for the people is taking a back seat to their riches.

    So, maybe Chan & Zuckerberg will figure this out. And whatever they do, it’s their money to spend, and they still have the opportunity to do a lot of good. Mazel tov, folks!

    • Sam says:

      I take people like Buffet with a grain of salt. He talks about the need for fairer taxes, and I agree. but here’s the thing – the Treasury Department accepts donations. Yes, it actually does! Buffet could cut a check tomorrow for his self-assessed “fair share” if he wanted to. So I tend to think he’s really all talk.

      • DiamondGirl says:

        Buffett is a big phony. I live where he does and he has done nothing charitable here. He just buys companies and brags about how rich he is but oh so humble because he lives in the same house. That house is very nice, in an old-money Tudor brick houses area, so it’s not like he’s in a small starter home. Also, he openly had a mistress for years while his wife lived in Palm Springs.

      • Who ARE these people? says:

        Wowee. Thanks for the scoop, though it’s unpleasant to hear. Money changes people, or something like that.

      • Patty says:

        Ditto what DiamondGirl said. I too live in Omaha. Buffet is not known for his philanthrophy.

      • april says:

        DiamondGirl – I read his approved biography and he regrets he and his wife didn’t work out, but his wife left and started an affair with her tennis coach and he also had his girlfriend. They never divorced but led separate lives.

  17. Sam says:

    FYI, Gawker has a piece up about this pledge that’s kind of interesting and, admittedly, cynical. It seems like Zuckerberg’s charitable donations are not exactly as smart as Bill Gates’ are. Gates is famous for directing his money towards extremely tangible, impactful goals – like the eradication of malaria in developing nations, development of cheap and accessible contraceptives, etc. Gawker’s piece points out that Zuckerberg seems far more into his fuzzy, transhumanism-style stuff. His gift to the Newark schools was largely viewed as a failure because, due to a failure to really know what the schools needed and a failure to structure the gift appropriately to ensure the money actually reached those who needed it most. I mean, I’m not going to pee on somebody giving away substantial sums, but I just hope that he follows the Gates model and directs the money to important causes that already exist and can actually use it. The Gawker piece, and its links, are really worth reading.

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      Thanks for this! Let’s hope he made his rookie mistake and will be learning as he goes. I guess it’s as easy to make mistakes with $100 million as it is with $100. Though I’ll never have personal experience with that…

      • Sam says:

        Gawker’s whole theory is that when you get somebody like Zuckerberg, who can give insane amounts of money, you basically can bend the people or places getting the money to your will. The Newark case study is fascinating. From the New Yorker, Zuckerberg wanted the majority of the money to be used to modernize the technology available in the schools. Huge portions of the money were used to purchase computer programs, new technology packages, etc., because that was what he wanted. But, here’s the thing: some of the Newark schools were so poor, they did not have reliable power. Many of them were in physical disrepair. Seems kind of dumb to donate millions of dollars worth of tech to a group of schools that cannot meet the basic physical accommodation needs of students.

        That’s where Gates gets his charity right. Firstly, he rarely gives massive gifts because evidence suggests that once a gift becomes so huge, the will of the recipients becomes less important than the will of the giver, which is really not the point. Secondly, he usually donates directly to organizations that are already in the target area, on the ground, who know what is needed most urgently. Gates is not my favorite person, but he has created an excellent model for charity.

      • Alex says:

        Ok Sam I see what you’re saying. Hopefully he takes a page from Bill. He just met with him recently

    • Alex says:

      I think that’s his direction now. It seems like he knows his first major donation was a bust which is also why he is focused on policy in addition to donating. Mark working with Bill Gates and his foundation will probably teach him a lot. I think anyone with new money and a desire to use it for good could fall into that trap so he does need someone to teach him as well

    • claire says:

      Well, he’s met quite a bit with Bill and Melinda recently, and he references them several times in the open letter, so it may be safe to say that he is doing more research and trying to learn more. I’m not going to knock it unless there’s something tangible to complain about.

    • Coconut says:

      There was a great profile recently on Melinda Gates, Bill’s wife. According to the piece, she has really found her stride co-running the foundation, in particular as she has realized that much of the good they can catalyze lies in helping to address not only basic health travesties (malaria), but spending a lot to help *women and girls* in myriad ways … Because if you help them, you generally help the whole community.

      Mark’s initial charitable gifts, while well-intentioned (helping the schools), sound like other young tech stars’ giving: often tech oriented, not looking at the whole picture (is there $$ to run and maintain the computers?). And he really ought to build in some accountability so $100M is not gone in a minute.

      FWIW, if they give away 99% of $4.5B, they’ll still have $450M. If I did my math right.

      • Maxime DuCamp says:

        yes, that’s the figure I’ve seen in related articles. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that they (or anyone else for that matter) can give away 99% of their money and still have $450 million left! That to me (who has a had a rough go financially the last couple of years, though just got a new job so things should be slowly turning around) is just incomprehensible. But good on them. I hope that they are able to do some good.

    • BGirl81 says:

      Here’s my issue with it: 99% of Facebook shares will now wind up being taxed under a charity tax code. That is an absolute fortune in lost tax revenue. As I understand it from people who deal with this sort of thing professionally, there is some tax-sheltering shade to be thrown at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and I hope that’s not the case here.

  18. Hannah says:

    Good for them! And congrats on the baby!

  19. Louisa says:

    1% of 45 billion dollars is $450,000,000. I’ll just leave that information here.

    • Kitten says:

      Ha ha..yeah that’s what I’m thinking. I’m trying to not be cynical/negative here but…

      • Maxime DuCamp says:

        I am generally cynical, but they are young, who knows what is going to happen to Facebook shares in the future (although I doubt that they will ever be anything but rich, even if the shares lose their current value) and may have more children. I can’t begrudge them the $450 million when they’ve just pledged to give away 99% of their money, although it still leaves them more than enough. And who’s to say as they get older and Max is an adult that they won’t pledge the rest of their money to their foundation or other charities?

  20. Gabrielle says:

    I’m not allowed to say too much, but I know someone who met them, and they are very nice normal people. Do not travel with an entourage. Do not have a lot of hired help. Very polite and nice couple.

  21. Miss Jupitero says:

    He recently gave a huge pile of money to Planned Parenthood. I hope this continues!

  22. WTF says:

    I hate to be a buzzkill but I found this announcement about ‘giving away’ their stock to be weird, self aggrandizing and a little dishonest.
    The way it’s was described in the financial news is that he’s basically committing to transferring his stock/wealth to another entity that he and his wife completely control. Sooooo it sounds like a lot of puffery just to say, and we are really going to try to help people with our money. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. It’s just the way the announcement is made makes it seem like they are giving away all of their stock/wealth.

  23. Remy says:

    They are giving away wealth out in the open for everyone to see. I find that in itself to be admirable. I don’t know/understand all of the details surrounding their previous attempt at giving a large some of money, but let’s consider that they could be out there in the world calling the paparazzi to show off their private jets, mansions, and yachts but instead these people want to show off the fact that they are giving away their wealth to charitible organizations. I will take that over the latter any day and hopefully this will draw others out to try and compete with them and begin more discussions about the state of how human beings who are less fortunate are treated in this world and less discussions about 30k handbags and expensive vacations.

  24. Amelie says:

    Didn’t Bill Gates make a similar pledge to give away most of his money? His kids are set to inherit about only 1 million each which is peanuts compared to what he is worth if I remember correctly.

    I realize Mark’s foundation is different but he is still pledging to give most of his fortune away which will set a good example for Max who is basically set for life.

    • BGirl81 says:

      As it was explained to me (I’m no expert!), the Gates children will be paid a generous salary to run the foundation while the money is held, taxed on a charity tax rate, in a foundation controlled by…the Gates family. So there’s that.

  25. stacey says:

    I just can’t with the whole Facebook/Google scene.

    I live in Silicon Valley and the people I know who work at these companies are some of the most entitled obnoxious people I know. They all act like they are working on a cure for aids or cancer. Its so eye roll inducing.

    • BGirl81 says:

      I wonder if they are actually going to address the housing situation in the cities where they have made decent housing completely unaffordable. Y’all are familiar with the homeless camps outside Silicone Valley, right?

      • stacey says:

        I don’t pretend to know what the answer is but rent is completely unaffordable.

        Again, why does he need to announce his plan? To get a pat on the back? He could have donated all of this without the press release.

        so pretentious so self important

    • BGirl81 says:

      Agreed! Much of the tech population in the Boston area swans around patting themselves on the back constantly haha! Really, all their so-called innovation has accomplished has been….apps. Oh, and online sports betting. And ruining one neighborhood after another because they couldn’t care less about anyone but themselves. Impressive.

  26. tacos and tv says:

    Stories like this tends to restore my faith in humanity a little bit. Congrats to the addition to their family!

  27. hmmm says:

    Meh. To me the guy is a psychopath and clearly there’s something in it for him.

  28. My Two Cents says:

    They seem like a well grounded new money couple. Good for them for wanting to make the world a better place. Much better than how people like George Soros spend their money to spread chaos and disruption.

  29. Who ARE these people? says:

    Lo and behold, former labor sec’y Robert Reich posted this on his Facebook page (he writes, like, 12 pieces a day and swears he does it all himself):

    “Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and chief executive of Facebook, announced yesterday that he and his wife would use 99 percent of their Facebook shares during their lives (currently worth more than $45 billion) for charitable purposes. Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, say their initial areas of focus will be “personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities.”
    I think that’s great. But for every dollar they allocate to these causes, about 70 cents will actually be from them and about 30 cents from the rest of us — since they’ll deduct the contributions from their taxable income, and other taxpayers therefore will be paying a bit more in taxes to make up the difference.
    As more and more of America’s new Gilded Age billionaires give to the causes of their choice – on a scale of charitable giving we haven’t witnessed since the first Gilded Age more than a century ago — we’re now in effect privatizing society’s decisions about what good causes deserve the highest priority. If you’d rather that our 30 percent of Zuckerberg’s and Chan’s huge contributions go to, say, Alzheimer’s research or a cure for AIDS, you’re out of luck.
    What do you think?”

    • Nic says:

      Interesting. I wonder, since they will be setting up their “foundation” (or whatever it is) as a for-profit rather than non-profit entity, will the tax break options still be the same?

      I do think it’s something worth making a point about (and love Reich for bringing it up), but I’m also guessing Zuckerberg has a whole team of lawyers and accountants who can figure out every tax loophole available to him and engineer all sorts of offshore accounts or whatnot if his motivation is really to minimize his tax liability. I’d rather see the money going to something (ANYTHING) even a little bit worthwhile than moldering in an account on the Cayman Islands!

      Maybe Zuckerberg will decide a great use of his $$$ would be to lobby for a more equitable distribution of tax collection??? I wonder what Reich would have to say about that.

      As for the name, Maxima is cute. I think it would be hilarious if they went for a blended name. Maxima Zuckerchan. Maxima Chaberg. Maxima Zuchan. So many possibilities!

  30. notsoanonymous says:

    I cannot hate Mark. He married a seemingly wonderful woman, who is incredibly intelligent and warm. He has a massive amount of respect from Sheryl Sandberg – and I genuinely do not think that comes from him being her boss. When you see a guy who is surrounded with really smart women who think highly of him, I think it says a lot about his character.

    Regardless of what you think about Facebook, or Mark as a person (which is heavily influenced by the media) these two just had a very much wanted and loved little girl. Congrats!

    • mayamae says:

      I don’t really pay a lot of attention to this couple, but it says something about a man who’s still with the same woman from before he became famous and wealthy. I just googled to discover Vanessa’s specialty (Pediatrics), and read that the couple experienced three miscarriages prior to Max’s birth.

      • notsoanonymous says:

        Correct. She’s very highly accomplished and they seem incredibly grounded. I think The Social Network did a lot of damage to Mark’s image and that combined with his missteps (which nearly everyone, in the limelight or not, ends up having before his current age) have made him a pretty nasty sounding figure.

  31. Frosty says:

    Zuckerbeg’s a creep and now a liar. This “pledge” will turn out to be bull, just watch.

  32. westelle says:

    Zuckerberg is very young and unbelievably successful. He is not a hedge funder or Wall Street predator. He did not get his money from anyone. He is is an absolute 100% American success story, and I’m proud of America. As pretty much all of extremely successful people, he has a lot of haters. Gawker is a 2-bit snarky journo wannabe menagerie, and they make what little money they do by trying to stick it to the successful people.
    Zuckerberg and Chan have their whole lives ahead of them, and they seem normal and decent people who are concerned about the world’s issues. Good for them for taking their success responsibly, loving each other and giving so much to others. And making Facebook one of the best places to work, by the way.