Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and 16 other billionaires have signed up to Bill Gates’s Giving Pledge
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged to give away the best part of his $6.9 billion fortune to charity, following in the footsteps of Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and several of America’s other wealthiest individuals and families.
Zuckerberg and Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz are among 17 new people who have agreed to join the Giving Pledge, set up by Bill Gates’ and American philanthropist Warren Buffett in June. It is intended to encourage some of the wealthiest people in the world to share their fortune with those most in need.
“People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?” said Zuckerberg in a statement. “With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts.”
Billionaires sign up to Gateses’ Giving Pledge
Zuckerberg was placed 36th in this year’s Forbes list of the richest people in the United States. Earlier this year he donated $100 million to help support ailing schools in New Jersey.
Other notable billionaires to sign up to the pledge this week include Carl Icahn, Ted Forstmann and Steve Case. Many have written letters explaining their decision to pledge at least half of their vast fortunes, which can be found on the Giving Pledge website.
The Giving Pledge now includes 57 families from across the United States, and Buffett and the Gateses have reportedly begun conversations with billionaires from other countries to learn about their philanthropy efforts and what has worked in their countries.
According to Peter Singer, professor of bioethics in the University Centre for Human Values at Princeton University, the Giving Pledge is helping to change the culture of charitable giving. “Research shows that when people know that others are giving, they are themselves more likely to give,” he explained. “So publicly pledging to give will encourage others to give. This holds true for billionaires and for those of us who aren’t anywhere near that level.”
Carl Icahn admits in his pledge letter that he had never considered going public with his intentions before this project was launched. “However, I certainly see the value of a project that encourages wealthy individuals to step forward and commit to use their wealth for the common good,” he said. “I hope that by adding my voice with those who are supporting this project, we will all encourage others to participate.”
Microsoft’s Facebook bid
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has long been regarded as a controversial figure, most notably for his much-criticised stance on user privacy. This latest news is likely to be seen as a move to improve his public image.
It recently emerged that Microsoft once tried to acquire Facebook for $15 billion, but the offer was turned down by Zuckerberg. According to David Kirkpatrick’s “The Facebook Effect,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer visited Zuckerberg in Palo Alto, California, where he made the $15 billion offer. But Zuckerberg wanted to keep control of his project.
Microsoft did eventually invest in Facebook, however, to the tune of $240 million, giving it a 1.6 percent stake in the social network.