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Chairman Zuck ends would-be president Zuck's political career

Facebook gives up on share plan that would give Zuck control forever, even if he worked for government

By Simon Sharwood, 24 Sep 2017

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2017 was “to have visited and met people in every state in the US by the end of the year.” He'd already visited 20, so the effort to tick off the other 30 means he's travelled rather a lot in 2017. That Facebook also hired former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe meant that many have observed his travels look like just the sort of thing a political aspirant would do to lay the foundations for a tilt at elected office. The theory was helped by a 2016 proposal to let Zuckerberg retain control of Facebook even if he stepped away from running the company to work in government.

The theory's now bust, however, as Facebook’s decided to kill off Zuck's idea to create a new class of Facebook shares he could use to control the company for the foreseeable future even after selling down shares to fund his philanthropic efforts.

The news is contained in a Friday SEC filing [PDF] that says Facebook won't go ahead with the plan outlined in the June 2, 2016, proxy statement [PDF]. That statement also allowed Zuckerberg to take a leave of absence from Facebook, for up to two years, to work in a government position.

So goodbye to the prospect of president Zuck, thanks to chairman Zuck.

Chairman Zuck himself took to Facebook to explain the change, writing that the idea for a new class of stock “was that it would allow me to keep voting control of Facebook so we can continue to build for the long term, but also allow Priscilla and me to fund the work we're doing through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.”

“At the time, I felt that this reclassification was the best way to do both of these things. In fact, I thought it was the only way. But I also knew it was going to be complicated and it wasn't a perfect solution.”

Now, Zuckerberg says, “Facebook's business has performed well and the value of our stock has grown to the point that I can fully fund our philanthropy and retain voting control of Facebook for 20 years or more. As a result, I've asked our board to withdraw the proposal to reclassify our stock - and the board has agreed.”

Zuckerberg now plans to sell “35-75 million Facebook shares in the next 18 months to fund our work in education, science, and advocacy.” And to keep ticking States off his list. ®

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