Article by: Jinwon Cyhn
We all know the iconic blue and white website where we spend many minutes, even hours. What could this be other than Facebook? The story of its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, is as well known. Many have heard of stories about his romantic love story with his college girlfriend (now wife) or his passion for creating something new; however, many are unaware that Zuckerberg has put his fortune of a whopping $33.1 billion, to good use, as he has donated over hundreds of millions of dollars to certain organisations, hospital and schools.
Just recently, he and his wife donated $75 million dollars to a hospital in San Francisco. This is a feat that is “believed to be the largest single private gift from individuals to a public hospital in the United States”. But what sparked this innovator to his road to success, which later led to his generosity in giving back to his community?
Zuckerberg was born in 1984 in New York to a Jewish family. In high school, Zuckerberg excelled in classes, and then transferred to Phillips Exeter Academy, a prestigious private high school, where he won accolades in different subjects. In his college application, Zuckerberg claimed that he could read and write French, Hebrew, Latin, and ancient Greek, and was also captain of the fencing team. These attributes contributed to the factors that led him into eminent Harvard College. And it was in Zuckerberg’s Harvard dormitory that he gave birth to the idea of his social media giant, Facebook. “We had books called Face Books, which included the names and pictures of everyone who lived in the student dorms,” explains Hasit, Zuckerberg’s roommate. “At first, he built a site and placed two pictures of either two males and two females. Visitors to the site had to choose who was “hotter” and according to the votes there would be a ranking.” After a few weeks, the ‘Face Books’ started catching on and rose to such a popularity that it crashed the Harvard websites. This made Mark Zuckerberg’s name not only famous in his own acclaimed school, but in other Ivy schools near him.
Eventually, Zuckerberg started getting multiple offers to buy the Facebook company… However, Zuckerberg declined all offers, claiming that “having media corporations owned by conglomerates is just not an attractive idea”. He started to gain even more popularity, showing up in many magazines, and eventually rose to where he is now—the CEO of one of the most—if not the most—influential and powerful social media networking sites of the modern day era.
Along the way, he donated and invested in many small rising websites and programs, claiming that it would be “a cool idea” to have someone support them during their struggles. He has also donated to countless schools, especially public schools, and many hospitals. Zuckerberg has mentioned in many interviews that his main focus for his donations is children’s education and health care. Many think that his wife, Priscilla Chan, a pediatrician, is main factor that has influenced his mindset on charity. Following the lead of Zuckerberg and others, many in the new generation of tech leaders are not wasting any time getting started on their philanthropy. Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe’s $31 million donation to the computer science department at the University of Maryland, and the massive donor-advised fund that was just created by GoPro founders, Nicholas and Jill Woodman, which just happens to be run by the same foundation that administers Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s charitable fund, are just some of the few that are believed to be influenced by Zuckerberg’s philanthropy.
What started from a single idea in a college dorm at night with friends has lead to, not only a successful social base, but also to many lives being positively affected by his wife and his generosity (which of course came from Facebook’s funding). One does not have to be ostentatiously rich nor a CEO of a big company like Zuckerberg—in fact, he himself stated that one factor that had pushed him into donations and charity were “the small acts during [his] childhood”.