Insights + Resources

The Zuckerberg Impact

Dec 3, 2015

facebook_like_logo_1If #GivingTuesday wasn’t great enough on it’s own, Facebook ‘s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg stole the show with an absolutely extraordinary pledge to give away 99% of his Facebook fortune over his and his wife Priscilla Chan’s lifetime. That amount, as it stands today would total over 45 billion dollars. This will be done through their ongoing platform entitled the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. Basically, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative allocates money to organizations around the country — and eventually, the world — in order to make it a better place for everyone.

The news of this incredibly selfless pledge was announced through an online posting, via Facebook of course, entitled “A Letter to Our Daughter” in honor of their newborn baby girl, Maxima. Of course it has quickly become today’s biggest headline and rightfully so. Here is a young man of extraordinary wealth that has an enormous amount of influence on the minds of so many around the world. He doesn’t just capture the attention of Wall Street, business tycoons, or venture capitalists for his impeccable savvy in growing multiple technology platforms, he inspires so many more of us. And today, in my opinion, he has made his biggest impact yet on the minds and in the hearts of today’s younger generation. This is how leaders lead. And he has set an amazing precedent by demonstrating that it’s not about him and it shouldn’t be about us either.  What our lives should be about, to a large extent, is seeing what we can do to better the lives of others. And that is exactly what he and his wife are going to do with this pledge, and have already been doing for years.

As many of you know, our focus here at Epic Capital is on Impact Investing, and investing with a purpose. We believe that it is our mission  to have a meaningful impact on the financial lives of our clients so that they in turn, can have a positive and sustainable impact on the lives of their families and on the charitable organizations, causes and communities around the world that they hold in their hearts. It sounds like Mr. Zuckerberg is as big a fan of impact investing as there comes. Highlighting a few lines, listed below, from today’s 2000+ word letter, I believe you may agree. One doesn’t need to read much between the lines when it reads like this …

  • Like all parents, we want you to grow up in a world better than ours today
  • Our society has an obligation to invest now to improve the lives of all those coming into this world …
  • If society focuses more of its energy on these great challenges, we will leave your generation a much better world
  • Can we harvest more clean energy so that you can invent things we can’t conceive today while protecting the environment?
  • Can we cultivate entrepreneurship so you can build any business and solve any challenge to grow peace and prosperity?
  • Promoting equality is about making sure everyone has access to these opportunities — regardless of the nation, families, or circumstances they are born into.
  • If our generation makes the right investments, the answer to each of these questions can be yes
  • We must make long-term investments over 25, 50, or even 100 years. The greatest challenges require very long time horizons and cannot be solved by short term thinking.
  • … we have a responsibility as a society to focus our investments on the future to make this reality.

Investing alongside of your personal values has many names: socially responsible investing (or SRI); sustainable investing; environmental, social and governance (or ESG), corporate social responsibility (CSR) and now impact investing. They all boil down to investment vehicles that own stakes in companies or lend to organizations that are trying to make a positive difference in the world. Impact investing is not an asset class; it’s a lens through which one looks when constructing an investment portfolio. Whether through the public markets or through private investments, impact investing is here to stay because that is what the world needs. There is simply not enough money raised through philanthropy or supported by government to fund today’s social and environmental issues. These issues need to be supported by public and private enterprises in tandem with those other sources so that collectively they have the ability to leverage the biggest investment dollars, thereby having the biggest net impact.

As you can see, we are big fans of today’s announcement, and I hope we continue to see more announcements like this from many others who have the ability to do so. Mark Zuckerberg was not the fist person to make such an announcement, and I well acknowledge that fact. There are many before him that have pledged a very large percentage of their wealth to incredible causes. I don’t discount those efforts at all. I am simply pointing out, that here is a 31-year old man, who knows exactly what his purpose is, what he was put on this earth to do after the successes he’s had. That to me is incredibly inspiring, and I hope that same level of inspiration reaches hundreds and thousands of others as well. And more importantly, moves them to action to forward, however they may, the causes that are most important to them.

If you would like to read the full version of Mark and Priscilla’s letter, click the link below:

https://www.facebook.com/chanzuckerberginitiative/

Bravo to both Mark and Priscilla, Bravo.

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