Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has announced he will donate 18 million shares in Facebook from his personal holding to charity. The gift is worth about $990 million at a Facebook share price of $55, and will go to his own charitable foundation, the Silicon Valley Community foundation, and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Science.
Zuckerberg’s move is indeed a genuinely philanthropic one, and comes a year after he donated a smaller sum of half a billion dollars to charity. This places him alongside other tech names like Bill Gates, who are trying to use their billions for good. But Zuckerberg is also selling additional shares to pay taxes he’ll incur when he uses his option to buy 60 million more shares. Right now he will dispose of around 41 million shares in total. Other shareholders have also revealed plans to dispose of some of their holdings and the company itself is going to sell an additional 70 million shares that could raise close to $4 billion in the first follow-on sale since its IPO. The money is earmarked for working capital inside the company, and could be used for corporate purposes like funding more acquisitions, although the company stresses in its press release that it has no specific targets in mind for the new cash.
The share moves are complicated, and have sightly unsettled the markets, with the company’s share price dropping significantly by 2.5%, erasing some $3 billion off the company’s market worth. The company’s IPO in early 2012 was marred by a couple of blunders and the share price has taken a long time to recover.