Zuckerberg Pledges Fortune to Charity

Yes, even this--like anything the Facebook founder does--is controversial

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Fresh off his 60 Minutes appearance last Sunday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised to give away the majority of his wealth to charity by signing onto the Giving Pledge, a campaign spearheaded by investor Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill Gates that now includes nearly 60 signatories. The 26-year-old, who Forbes estimates is worth $6.9 billion, joins 16 fellow billionaires enlisting in the effort this week, including AOL co-founder Steve Case and Zuckerberg's former Harvard roommate, Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz.

Zuckerberg has recently stepped up his philanthropic efforts, announcing in September that he would donate up to $100 million to public schools in Newark, New Jersey. In a statement released by the Giving Pledge late yesterday, Zuckerberg explained, "People wait until late in their career to give back. But why wait when there is so much to be done?" Not all are applauding Zuckerberg's move, though. Just as the original signers of the Giving Pledge drew contrarian criticism, Zuckerberg is getting some, too.

  • Do Something Less Egotistical and More Useful to the World's Poor, admonishes Carl Mortished at Canada's Globe and Mail: 
I can understand why Mr. Zuckerberg is eager to give away his money to a good cause, but I would rather he ... Walk away from Facebook and start again. If he really wants to help the poor, he should come up with a good idea that will make money, jobs and wealth. Sadly, I reckon most of these would-be philanthropists ... hope that the Giving Pledge will wash away the dirt of money-making, absolve what sins they may have committed and they want do it in a tax-efficient way because they know that the government may do even worse things with their money than would their feckless children.
  • Last Time Zuckerberg Gave, Critics Questioned His Motives, remarks Fast Company's Jenara Nerenberg. When Zuckerberg donated to Newark's public school system, Nerenberg recalls, "critics questioned the timing of that grant, which coincided perfectly with the release of the potentially damaging film The Social Network, a film said to portray Zuckerberg as greedy and friendless." She adds, though, that Newark Mayor Cory Booker defended Zuckerberg at the time and said he had to persuade the entrepreneur to not give anonymously.
  • Cut Zuckerberg Some Slack, urges Ernie Smith at ShortFormBlog: "Is it us, or does the Mark Zucker­berg one seem designed to make people look for ulterior motives? Because it seems that’s what people are already doing. You know, nobody ever questioned BILL GATES for this, and he had a lot more public relations work to do after that antitrust stuff than Zucker­berg ever did."
  • This Marks A Shift In Philanthropy, add Robert A. Guth and Geoffrey A. Fowler at The Wall Street Journal. Successful business people are giving money to charity at a much earlier age than their predecessors, the reporters explain, in a trend shaped in part by Gates, who launched his foundation while at the helm of Microsoft.
  • But Remember, Much of Zuckerberg's Wealth Is Theoretical, points out Good's Morgan Clendaniel: "Most of Zuckerbergs assets ... are tied up until Facebook goes public. To pledge to give away your billions before you even get it is impressive, if not slightly hubristic."
  • What Pressure on Billionaires! exclaims Gwen Robinson at The Financial Times' Alphaville: "With the latest outbreak of Buffett and Gates-inspired philanthropic good cheer, it’s almost getting to the point where any billionaire who is not giving away a chunk of his or her fortune will be portrayed as the ultimate Grinch."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.