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Mark Zuckerberg and wife to give away 99% of their Facebook shares

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Mark Priscilla Baby
Credit: Mark Zuckerberg / Facebook

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have revealed they are to give 99 per cent of the shares they own in the social network to good causes, as the couple announce the birth of their daughter.

In a post on his personal page, Zuckerberg welcomed their daughter Max and then pledged to give away shares worth $45 billion to to "join many others in improving this world for the next generation."

The astonishing giveaway will take place over the course of the couple's lives, under the banner of the new Zuckerberg Chan Initiative.

Money will be donated to various causes chosen or established by the couple. The will relate to to curing disease, harnessing clean energy, connecting people and reducing poverty among others.

In a status update he wrote: "Priscilla and I are so happy to welcome our daughter Max into this world!

For her birth, we wrote a letter to her about the world we hope she grows up in.

It's a world where our generation can advance human potential and promote equality -- by curing disease, personalizing learning, harnessing clean energy, connecting people, building strong communities, reducing poverty, providing equal rights and spreading understanding across nations.

We are committed to doing our small part to help create this world for all children. We will give 99% of our Facebook shares -- currently about $45 billion -- during our lives to join many others in improving this world for the next generation.

Thank you to everyone in this community for all your love and support during the pregnancy. You've given us hope that together we can build this world for Max and all children."

The open letter can be read here on Facebook Notes.

Zuck baby

Among those posting their congratulations were Melinda Gates, wife of Microsoft's Bill. The couple has blazed a trail in the tech community through their foundation, which has resolved to rid the world of Malaria.

Earlier this week, the Zuckerbergs joined the Gates' in committing to the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which will presumably see some of the cash being donated.

In a comment on Zuckerberg's post, Mrs Gates wrote: "As for your decision to give back so generously, and to deepen your commitment now, the first word that comes to mind is: Wow. The example you’re setting today is an inspiration to us and the world."

"We can be confident of this: Max and every child born today will grow up in a world that is better than the one we know now. As you say, “seeds planted now will grow.” Your work will bear fruit for many decades to come."

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg added: "This is a beautiful letter and an incredible commitment to future generations. Congratulations Mark and Priscilla – this is the start of another amazing chapter in your lives."

The donation is structured so Zuckerberg maintains control of the company.

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