With the recent announcement that Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan will donate 99 percent of their company shares to charities, many are drawing similarities between the tech billionaire and one of his older, more established, and even more philanthropic colleagues. The truth is that Zuckerberg is becoming more like Bill Gates every day. The two not only have similar backgrounds — both having dropped out of Harvard — but are committed to some of the same causes.
They first appeared firmly aligned in altruism in 2010, when Zuckerberg, Gates, and 34 other billionaires vowed to give at least half of their wealth to charity. Zuckerberg and Chan penned a moving Giving Pledge commitment letter, stating that they were devoted to donating to causes ranging from "public education to healthcare, from life science research to energy and internet connectivity." The letter continues:
We’ll make long term bets that others won’t make and that will take a decade or longer to achieve their goals. We’ll learn from each project and apply those lessons to future work. That’s why we’re starting and making this commitment now while we’re still early in our careers — so we can gain experience early and become more effective in our giving over time
Under the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the tech visionary and his wife have donated millions to Chan's alma mater, UCSF, as well as to myriad of nonprofits committed to providing equal opportunities in education for K-12 students, including Dream.US, the Education Superhighway, and Bridge International Academies.
Gates and his wife wrote an equally meaningful Giving Pledge commitment letter, highlighting the work they'd done via the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help combat rotavirus, among many other initiatives. Though eradicating infectious diseases appears to be one of Gates' primary causes, he's also committed to fighting global warming. In fact, it was Gates and Zuckerberg who partnered with influential billionaires from around the world to launch the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, an organization committed to investing in green energy companies that are innovating and helping to reduce global emissions.
Between uniting in similar causes an pledging to donate at last half of their wealth, the similarities between Gates and Zuckerberg are striking. Both have changed the way we use technology in our everyday lives. More importantly, the two are using their immense capital for good, and doing so with the support of their wives, who are essential to their shared vision of philanthropy. Zuckerberg becoming more like Gates means there's one more billionaire doing some good in the world, and that's a pretty great thing.