Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has announced a philanthropic way to celebrate the birth of his first child, Max: to give away 99 per cent of his shares over the course of his lifetime to a newly-formed charitable foundation.

With a net worth estimated at around $46.8 billion, Facebook's Zuckerberg certainly isn't short of cash. The social networking company he founded turns a tidy profit despite offering its services free to users, largely through behavioural profiling which is then used to target third-party advertising. Now, Zuckerberg is joining fellow technology entrepreneur Bill Gates in offering up his cash to charity - albeit a charity he has founded himself.

'As you begin the next generation of the Chan Zuckerberg family, we also begin the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to join people across the world to advance human potential and promote equality for all children in the next generation. Our initial areas of focus will be personalised learning, curing disease, connecting people and building strong communities,' Zuckerberg wrote in an open letter to Max, his first child with partner Priscilla Chan. 'We will give 99 per cent of our Facebook shares - currently about $45 billion - during our lives to advance this mission.

'We know this is a small contribution compared to all the resources and talents of those already working on these issues. But we want to do what we can, working alongside many others. We'll share more details in the coming months once we settle into our new family rhythm and return from our maternity and paternity leaves. We understand you'll have many questions about why and how we're doing this.
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Zuckerberg's announcement drew support from Melinda Gates, who manages the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with her husband Bill. 'As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow,' she wrote in a comment to the open letter. 'The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world.'

The pledge to dispose of 99 per cent of his shares over the course of his life isn't the first time Zuckerberg has dabbled in philanthropy: a previous donation of $100 million to his local school system was initially welcomed but soon ran into problems with backlash against high-priced consultants from teaching and management staff and issues with unions in the area.
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